Tasting Notes

The Details of Decanting

From enhancing the taste experience to elevating your presentaion, Assistant Director of Food and Beverage Logan Griffin provides a little insight into the art of decanting.

What type of wine should you decant?

This is a loaded question for sure, and people have many opinions! In general, wines should be decanted to aerate them, allowing nuances in the aromas of the wine to be released and allowing the wine to breathe. Wines that often benefit from this are young wines and/or wines that have been cellared for an extended amount of time. Decanting is most often best for red wines. 

Are there wines that you should not decant?

For the most part, I would recommend never decanting a bottle of sparkling wine. The enjoyment of sparkling wine is of course the bubbles! If you were to decant the bottle, you might lose a lot of those bubbles in the process. Also, white or red wines that have some serious age on them should be tasted first before decanting them. Older wines can have a tendency of being oxidized, so tread lightly when considering decanting an old bottle as you might hurt the wine by making it become even more oxidative.

What does decanting do for a wine?

The purpose of decanting, specifically for affecting the wine, is to aerate it and enhance distinctions in the aroma and flavor that you get with letting the wine breathe. The other main reason to decant a wine is to remove the wine from any sediment that may have gathered in the bottle. The sediment is often unpleasant, tannic and gritty, and you don't want that getting into your glass! Lastly, it's often simply a nice touch to decant a bottle of wine. It can show off the beautiful color of the wine as well as showcase the beauty of a decanter.

Should you decant your wine a certain amount of time before you plan to enjoy it? 

Again, a loaded question with lots of opinions! I truly enjoy tasting what I call the "arch" of a wine. To me, that means tasting a wine as soon as you open it to see how its tasting and smelling, and then enjoying the journey and evolution of the wine as it changes in the decanter, over lunch, dinner or whatever the occasion is that you open the bottle for.

Should you look for a specific shape of decanter? Does it matter?

When we select decanters, we consider a few things. Is it practical? Meaning, does it pour easily without dripping? Is it beautiful? How much wine does it hold – half bottle, full bottle, a magnum? The shape doesn't matter much outside of aesthetics and personal preference of style, but the size I would argue does. If you have a wine that you want to decant and expose to some air, but maybe not a lot of air, you would need a smaller sized decanter with a small mouth on it to encourage little air-to-surface ratio. However, if you have a wine that you really need to have breath and open up, you would want to put that into a large decanter where a lot of surface-to-air ratio exists.

February's Friends of the Farm perk is the Rachel Decanter. William Yeoward's Rachel Decanter is an iconic piece of crystal used by our very own sommeliers in The Barn at Blackberry Farm, and it's one of Mary Celeste's favorites!

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