The process of decanting wine is to pour a wine slowly from a bottle into another container, which can be a stylish decanter, another bottle or even a beer jug.
Normally you would do this for one of two reasons – to leave behind sediment that may have formed in an older bottle of wine, or to aerate a wine to improve it. At Tahbilk we recommend that wines only be decanted if there is sediment in the bottle, or if you know from experience with this particular wine and vintage that it needs some air before drinking.
Unfortunately there is a lot of confusing advice regarding decanting and aeration of both young and old wines. Older wines are more delicate than young wines and the myth of them needing air is just that – a myth.
Older wines can quickly lose their delicate characters if exposed to too much (or any excess) air – we recommend that the bottle be allowed to stand overnight to allow the sediment to settle to the bottom of the bottle, and then carefully poured just before drinking. Leave the last centimeter of wine in the bottom if it clearly has sediment in it.
As with breathing, if you think the wine needs air then just swirl the glass, no theatrics required!
White wines almost never need any decanting or aeration – they should be serve chilled but not too cold, and poured carefully if there are any visible crystals in the bottom of the bottle so that they stay there.
If you notice crystals in white wine are simply potassium bi-tartrate (cream of tartar, as used in baking) – which has naturally settled out of the wine. They are in no way harmful and can be left in the bottle or be drunk with the wine. To alleviate any concern, some winemakers used to call them ‘wine diamonds’!
So really decanting is your decision, just choose your wines wisely before tipping them into a new container for drinking!
Choosing the best wine decanter – Wine Folly
Does the shape of your wine decanter matter? – Vinepair
Factors to consider when buying a decanter – Wine Cooler Direct