Veteran readers know my devotion to decanting.
Wine writers debate decanting around the edges, but all acknowledge its benefits. The discourse is about how long to decant and extent of the effect, not if to decant.
Decanting involves pouring wine out of the bottle into a larger container, usually one with a broad base to expose greater surface of wine to air. Additional devices exist to expose wine to air using Venturi effect; some decanters incorporate both methods.
Almost no wines are harmed by decanting. Most wines today are consumed young; young wines benefit the most from so exposure to air. Both reds and whites benefit. Only very old, delicate wines might be harmed—wines readers likely will never encounter.
Wine writers disagree over how long to decant. Some assert 20 minutes is plenty. Others recommend an hour or more for bold reds. Unless your group empties the decanter in one round, your first glass could get 20 minutes of air, but your second and third glasses could get the hour or more. So, whatever.
Today’s trend toward large wineglasses means there is exposure to air even when you do not decant. Swirling a large glass is part of the aeration process. And a reason to buy large glasses.
Separating wine from sediment—participates of tannins and tartrates—is another reason for decanting. Today’s modern winemaking and younger wines significantly diminishes this need.
Presentation is final benefit. Pouring into a decanter looks neat and builds anticipation, and the decanter looks magnificent at table or bar.
If you can’t decant, no reason to rant. But when you can, see if it enhances your experience.
• Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc 2012. Very nice CA sauv blanc; peach, honeydew, honeysuckle, key lime; dry, brightly delicious, cutting acidity, food friendly winner. $11
• Michael David Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon 2011. Lush, mellow; big fruit—black currant, dark cherry; oak-vanilla; tame tannin; another Michael David delicious value. $20
• Chappellet Mountain Cuvee 2007. Bordeaux blend; fine fruity nose; ripe plum, black cherry, dense flavor; rustic, firm tannin, cedar; definite decant. $33
Last round: Who cares if your glass is half full or half empty as long as there is wine in the glass?