Decanting do’s and don’ts

As veteran readers know, I am an advocate of decanting. But this is wine, so when it comes to how to decant and when to decant, things can get problematic. Some guidelines.

• Decant red wines when they are young—less than 10 years old—to open them up. Decanting young reds tones down tannins, integrates boisterous elements, smooths them out, makes them more expressive and approachable. In some cases it deals with sediment. When a wine is 20 years old or more, decanting’s role only is to remove wine from sediment. Tip: if sediment is the issue, no matter the age of the wine, set the bottle upright for a few days so sediment falls to the bottom/punt of the bottle. Do not shake the bottle when opening.

• Caveat emptor: Decanting older wine can reduce or eliminate sediment. It also shortens its life out of the bottle. Decanted older wines can fade in an hour. Open with friends and enjoy that golden hour. Then open and decant that young whippersnapper and enjoy it while reminiscing about the wonderful old codger you just finished.

• You can decant some white wines and some sparkling wines. Age-worthy white Burgundy and higher-end Sonoma chardonnays can benefit from decanting for the same reasons decanting younger reds may improve things. Many sparkling wines improve with decanting. Because sparklings are made without much oxygen, when opened they can have sulphur, rotten egg, flinty smells. Decanting allows those traits to blow off, and they will, and decanting does not ruin the bubbles.

• Clean your decanter with care and respect. Do not use soapy water. Ever. On decanters or wine glasses. Approved methods: vinegar, course salt and ice, cleaning beads. Clean soon after each use. If the decanter sat on a shelf for some time between uses, clean the dust before the next use. Concomitant suggestion: use a simple, straight-forward decanter. There are baroquely extravagant designs, some sidling into rococo. Impressive pieces of glass art, often impossible to clean.

Tasting notes:

• Ca’ di Prata Prosecco Rosé Extra Dry Millesimato DOC 2019: Vibrant, very smooth and delicious, very easy drinker. $17 Link to my review

• Chalk Hill Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Chalk Hill Appellation 2019: Clean, crisp, refreshing. Good food wine. $33 Link to my review

• Tenuta di Arceno Strada al Sasso Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2016: Intense, brooding, concentrated, complex. $40-50 Link to my review

Last round: Why did Mrs. Wine Grape run away? Because she was tired of raisin a family.

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