The Art of Decanting…
When life gets too rushed and overwhelming, as it always does this time of year, the most important thing to remember is to breathe. The same goes for your wine, it improves character and the decanting thereof ensures optimal enjoyment.
But to understand why this is the case, we start at the very beginning…
What is meant by the decanting of wines?
Decanting your wine simply refers to the pouring of your wines from the bottle into another container. The container you use to decant into does not necessarily need to be a decanter; it can even be poured back into the bottle after decanting it into another container.
The container itself doesn’t affect or influence the outcome of the decanting process, the same objective, i.e. aerating your wine will be achieved. The container simply helps facilitate the pouring of the wine from one container to a next, whilst aerating the wine.
For the most part the striking decanters that are available nowadays, is merely used to respect the wine, especially if it is a high-quality wine. Whilst the decanter most definitely allows the wine to breathe, the decanter also presents the wine in a highly sophisticated and elegant way.
Why decant the wines?
There is more than one reason for decanting your wine. Besides the graceful presentation, the most important reason is to allow the wine to breathe. By simply pouring your wine from the bottle into the decanter, it allows the wine to be exposed to oxygen, resulting in the release of more of the wine’s beautiful aromas and superb flavours. The wine has been in a bottle, in other words an enclosed environment for a period of time (the length of this time period depends on the age of your wine). Thus, allowing the wine the opportunity to come in contact with air or oxygen rather, is very beneficial since the result is a more pronounced, yet softer wine, showcasing more of its intended characteristics.
Most wines, although not all wines, can benefit from decanting. It all depends on how the wine was made. Many wines are treated with oxygen to ‘soften’ the wine before it’s released. These kinds of wines will not necessarily benefit from decanting, since the decanting effect with the treatment of oxygen has already been achieved. This process however, does mean that these kinds of wines do not have good ageing ability. The upfront oxygen treatment makes the wines more approachable and readily drinkable, as opposed to the potential to age gracefully over years or even decades.
This being said, decanting can be advantageous to both red and white wines, older vintages and younger vintages. With older vintages especially, decanting does not only help with aerating the wine, but it also assists in separating the wine from any sediment, accumulated with the ageing of wine. Careful decanting therefore avoids ending up with sediment in the glass or the mouth, unnecessarily clouding the wine’s aroma due to its reductive effect. It is from here where the idea of decanting stems, as wines were not filtered before bottling in the olden times.
So why decant? To ensure the wines you and your guests are wanting to enjoy is immediately ready by being more approachable after decanting.
Which decanter to choose?
Good news – this is completely up to you! The only thing to keep in mind when choosing a decanter, the bigger the wine area that is exposed to oxygen, of course the better the ‘softening’ of the wine.
Modern decanters therefore vary in size and design. Some decanters can hold an amazing 1.5 litre of wine – perfect to decant an impressive magnum or two bottles of wine, especially when you are expecting to have a slightly bigger guest list. The decanter we’ve therefore chosen for our renowned Bordeaux-style blends, De Toren Z and De Toren Fusion V, is a glorious and absolutely stunning 2 litre hand-blown crystal decanter – so even perfect to decant our spectacular 1.5L magnums…
The smaller decanters on the other hand are impeccable for the wine contents of the regular 750ml wine bottle. Our marvellous De Toren Délicate decanter fits one bottle of wine perfectly and serves as both a decanter and a wine cooler. Since this wine is intended to be served slightly chilled, the hand-blown glass decanter with its ice pocket ensures ultimate refreshment and the release of the succulent strawberry flavours of our Malbec-dominated blend. The special ice pocket of the decanter is used to insert 2 or 3 ice blocks to cool down the wine, without diluting it and ensuring the De Toren Délicate is not only aerated, but also served at the perfect temperature. The perfect choice of decanter for this unique wine!
How to decant?
The earlier a wine is decanted before serving, the longer time it has to breathe, which ultimately betters the taste and nose even more so. One hour before serving the wine to your guests should be sufficient to ensure your guests will love the wine you have chosen for them.
However, should you not have the luxury of time before having to serve your guests some wine, here is some clever tips and tricks you can use to achieve a similar outcome… The first one is better known as ‘speed decanting’ or ‘double decanting’ and refers to pouring wine from one decanter to another decanter more than once, thus increasing the opportunities the wine is exposed to the oxygen. Otherwise ‘swirling’ your wine in the decanter is also quite a good option to increase the air-wine ratio.
The added bonus is that not only does it make the wine infinitely more enjoyable, but it is also presented in a very impressive and elegant manner on your lunch or dinner table! So, with all this said, it’s time to take out those decanters, dust it off and start decanting!