How & Why to Decant Wine? | Easy Tutorial

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With this Episode of the Julien’s Wine School, we’re learning which wine you should consider decanting, how and why.
Watch more from Julien’s Wine School:

00:00 – Teaser Intro
00:51 – About the Bonner Private Wine Club
02:32 – Intro to Decanting
04:02 – Why Decanting Wine?
07:00 – Which Wines to Decant?
09:00 – When to Decant Wine? How Long!?
10:38 – How to Decant?

Video Content:
Decanting wine is one of those gestures that you see wine professionals and connoisseurs do, but that is a little intimidating for everyone else. It can be a little daunting first: to know which wine to decant or not, and then how to do it, right?
While, at the end of the day, decanting wine is not very complicated, and knowing what to decant and when can be summarized in a few simple rules.
The reality is that even the average wine consumer could greatly improve its wine tasting experiences by decanting wines more often.
So here are a few rules of thumb to help you understand what decanting does to make wine better, and how to execute the gesture.
Chapter 1 – Why Decanting wine?
Essentially, decanting wine has two functions, on that is more important and more common than the other.
The main purpose of decanting wine is to introduce oxygen into the wine, or in other words, to aerate it.
Wine is full of anti-oxidant molecules, components that love to absorb oxygen. That’s especially true for red wines that have much more tannins into them. Tannins are strong antioxydants.
Because of these antioxydants, and because a bottle of wine is sealed (otherwise it would turn into vinegar), the aromatics in the wine hardly ever see any oxygen. When aromas haven’t had access to oxygen for a long time, they turn a little muted, less expressive, and sometimes they can even develop some slightly unpleasant smells like a smell of rubber or tire. That’s called reduction, which is the opposite of oxidation.
Introducing oxygen into a wine allows the aromas to breathe and take back their natural chemical form and their more natural expression of fruit, of spices, herbs, etc.
This is the primary function of decanting. As we decant, because we pour the wine out of its bottle, oxygen dissolves into it and liberates the full aromatic potential of the wine.
The second function of decanting, is to eliminate the sediments or the deposits that may have precipitated at the bottom of the bottle, so they don’t get served into our glasses.
Wine is not a perfectly stable solution, at least the good ones. So over time, especially during a long ageing, some of the acids and the tannins in the wine start precipitating, forming crystals than are too heavy to stay in suspension in the wine. This is a perfectly natural phenomenon, a sign that your wine is ‘alive’.
Chapter 2 – Which wines to decant?
Decanting is mostly for red wines really, because they contain these tannins that love to absorb oxygen.
Young, light and fruity reds generally do not need or benefit much from decanting because they don’t have a lot of tannins, and are already very expressive without much oxygen. So light and fruity Pinot Noirs or Beaujolais for examples do not generally need decanting.
Older wines though, will pretty much always benefit from decanting. Say, wines older than 5 years old, because the wine has been trapped into the bottle for all these years without oxygen. It’s generally better to let it breathe a little before serving.
Then young concentrated reds, the rich Cabernet Sauvignons, the Merlots or Malbecs, because they are so rich and full of tannins, can benefit from some aeration to amplify and reveal their fruity and spicy characters better.
Most old white wines like old Chardonnays for example could be decanted which would help tame down some of the nutty and waxy characters that they have and reveal the fruity characters better.
Some even go as far as decanting old aged Champagne wines!
Chapter 3 – When to decant?
Every wine is different, every bottle even is different and the right amount of oxygen and the time it’ll take it to reveal the full aromatic potential of a wine can vary greatly depending on each wine, its age, its type etc.
Most types of wines that we talked about earlier, the old wines and the young rich reds will benefit from being decanted half an hour or so before serving.
But half an hour will allow the oxygen to start interacting with the wine, without oxidizing anything.

Shout out to Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly (Essential Guide to Wine Book author), and Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV (wineliberarytv) for having inspired me to start making wine education and tasting videos on YouTube.


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