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Decanting Advice

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Jolene Cortwright — Sonoma, California asks,
Q

Here’s my wine question, though I know it’s not technically about winemaking, it should be of interest to consumers and winemakers alike. When should wines be decanted to be enjoyed more and when will decanting make a wine worse?

A
Those are a great couple of questions. Decanting, or the pouring of a wine out of its bottle into another, larger container (usually made of clear glass or crystal), is something that can be done with almost any wine. The aims of decanting are multifold and can include: To remove sediment from older, aged wines; to introduce air into and “open up” younger wines so they’re more approachable; and/or to present a wine in an attractive container at the table. Sparkling wines, however, are never decanted because they would quickly lose their all-important bubbles. White wines are rarely decanted because they tend to be more sensitive to oxygen exposure than reds and often don’t benefit as much from the procedure. Furthermore, white wines are often kept chilled in a bottle cooler at the table. It’s difficult to keep a decanter chilled to the proper serving temperature as they tend to be much larger at the base than a standard wine bottle. Can decanting ever make a wine worse? Indeed, the earlier examples come to mind, i.e. making a sparkling wine
Response by Alison Crowe.