When Should I Decant A Bottle Of Wine?


Decanting a bottle of wine, regardless of its size, serves two main purposes:

1. To separate wine from any sediment in the bottle

2. To introduce oxygen to a wine (aeration)

The vast majority of wines that we would recommend for decanting fall into the following two categories - essentially opposing ends of the wine maturity spectrum:

1. Wines that are considered "too young" i.e. opened before their prime

2. Wines in or towards the end of their peak drinking window

This is, of course, is extremely subjective as all of us have our own, individual preferences when it comes to wine. This is why there is no absolute rule about decanting.

Decanting can also be used to add a sense of theatre and drama to an occasion. The process of decanting is very rarely bad for a wine and it does serve to elevate expectations so why not try decanting richer, full bodied white wines too? The only downside is the extra washing up!

Wines to avoid decanting:

Very mature vintages of red wine (15 years +) should, if at all, be decanted just prior to serving. The delicate aromas the wine has taken so long to develop could be completely lost by over aggressive decanting and long exposure to oxygen.

Delicate and aromatic white wines may lose some of their more subtle characteristics so these wines are best served from the bottle.

Stuart Lancaster

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