Wait for it . . .
When you make a selection of wine, your first instinct is to pop the cork and pour a glass to drink right away. I have regrettably done this before and then, on the next glass, remarked that it tastes so much better. Slowing down and waiting for the wine to open up is really the best wine practice. It’s what wine collectors and drinkers already know. Being patient with your wine through decanting will heighten your enjoyment as a wine drinker.
Why decant wine?
Decanting wine can genuinely help the wine by oxygenating it and bringing out its best flavors. You can smell it when you first open it and know it needs more time to be at its best. It’s like when your child starts a sport or has a music lesson. You can see the improved progression over time. The air starts to mix with the original product, sweetening its fruit qualities and reducing its tannins. You can smell it after 30 minutes and tell it is going to taste better. Even cheaper wines can improve with decanting. Time is never wasted if improvement happens.
When decanting, the sediment can be separated so that you don’t feel like you are drinking the “gritty bottom” of the bottle. Most people want a smoother experience with full flavor potential. I do like a bit of an earthy taste in my wine, but that’s a personal preference.
What wines need to be decanted?
Red wine is really the best candidate for decanting. Wines that are intense and younger tend to need more decanting, ranging from 30 minutes to as long as two hours. White and sparkling wines don’t necessarily need to be decanted. If whites are decanted, they need less time than reds. Old-world wines are a world unto themselves. The experts know how to handle them with a gentle touch for the best results.
How to do it?
Most wines are stored on their side. It’s best to put the bottles upright even a day before you drink them. Open the wine, pour it gently into the decanter, then let it sit for a minimum of 30 minutes. It can’t magically change your grocery store varieties into Caymus, but it can improve the taste with some time.
Pouring is an art form we observe from well-trained servers and wine specialists. So it does make sense that correct pouring is the final chance for it to be just right before it enters your glass. Practice makes perfect.
Can you do it wrong?
Can you have too much of a good thing? Well, it appears there is a time limit on this process. If you leave your bottle unsealed overnight, it won’t be good the next day. Keep it cool and sealed until you are ready to drink it. Some old-world wines are rather “special” and can be over-decanted.
“Slowing down” is really the point of the wine lifestyle. Waiting the appropriate amount of time for your wine to decant can change the life of the wine and alter your experience, allowing you to drink it at its best moment!