Easy trick to improve wine: decant (pour wine from bottle into container that exposes larger surface to air).

It’s no secret decanting improves tight, tannic, young reds. In some cases—Super Tuscans less than 10 years old, for instance—decanting and exposure to air for several hours is virtually imperative to open door to delicious delights.

Not so well known: decanting improves many whites and even sparkling wines.

Decant sparkling? Doesn’t seem right, seems counter-intuitive, but it works. Okay, if it is really cheap sparkling—white swill with CO2 pumped into it—don’t decant. For that matter: don’t buy, don’t drink. For higher quality sparklings, however, decant and experience what happens. First surprise, decanting does not kill bubbles.

For most wines, decanting smooths edges, blows off smells some feel are flaws, improves wine experience.

Decanting is not one-size fits all. For older reds, especially Burgundies and New World pinot noir, decanting keeps sediment out of your glass, but drink soon after decanting to capture full aromas and flavors.

For tight and tannic reds, decant and expose to air for hours to bring the wine around, let it loosen up to play friendly with your palate. Rule of thumb: younger the red, longer the decant.

Not every wine expert is a disciple of decanting. Some limit it to narrow range of reds, especially young and restless tannic treats. This columnist decants almost everything and is a committed decanting devotee. Experiment. Discover your palate preference.

Next week: decanting 101 and tempest over tannin taming.


• Noble Vines 446 Chardonnay 2010. Apple, pineapple, apricot; clean-crisp acidity, creamy-silky-medium body; toasty oak; nice value. $11

• Peirano Estate The Other Red 2008. Cab-merlot-syrah. Plum, blackberry, spice, oak, smoke. Some veggy notes; tight—decant. $14

• Abundance Vineyards French Camp Paso Robles Syrah 2000. Plum, blackberry, blueberry; medium body, simple, soft tannins (after 12 years). $18