Ask A Wino – Wine Decanters


james wall C4 Deli Resident Bartender, Wine Purchaser and Texas native James Wall knows a thing or 100 about wine. Look out for his ‘red and white’ insight every Wednesday on our Wino Wednesday: Ask A Wino Q&A.

Q: Should I decant my wine?

A: In my last post, I improved your conversation skills for dinner parties whilst teaching you what exactly that unknown stuff found in your red wine bottle is and why it’s there in the first place. Now I am going to help you decide if you should get rid of this “sediment,” in other words, to decant or not to decant – That is the question hanging on the lips of many these days. For those of you that don’t know, decanting basically means to strategically pour wine from a bottle into another container called a “decanter,” stopping once the sediment begins to escape the bottle. You then have to decide how long the wine should stay in the decanter before being served. Both red and white wines can be decanted because decanting is thought to create new and exciting flavors, along with removing possible sediment in red wines, or in the case of white wine, removing “tartrates.”

To start, do you have a decanter? If you don’t I’m going to save you the trouble and stop you while you’re ahead. As I stated in my last post, sediment is completely harmless and actually has some nutritional benefits. No need to take the time to rush out and buy a decanter, enjoy that fine aged bottle of wine moments after the craving for it hits.

On a more serious note, the choice to decant is in large part a personal preference along with the contributing factor of what stage in development the bottle of wine is in. As a general rule of thumb, the older a wine is, the less time you might want to let it sit in the decanter because it may fade more quickly (I recommend an hour or so for old wines). For younger wines, you can choose to either decant and drink the wine right away, or let it sit in the decanter for much longer to give it a little extra something special. But don’t and I repeat DON’T ask your server to decant a 2013 pinot noir. Trust me.

While I can’t fully answer the question entirely for you because it is of personal preference, I can offer you another helpful piece of advice. If you do choose to decant your wine, stand your bottle to an upright position before you plan to open it, otherwise the sediment will be mixed throughout the bottle and it will make the process much more difficult.