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DECANTING WINE: The Hows and Whys!

WINE TIME TOP 4 REASONS TO DECANT WINE
OK, so I wasn’t completely focused during my humanities classes. I don’t remember the EXACT reason for the Japanese Tea Ceremony, but I’d bet that a big part of it is that it’s just plain fun! Although I have no evidence of this other than my own experiences and conversations with other wine-lovers, I do believe the same can be said for “The Decanting Ceremony”.

Decant

FUN is REASON #1 to decant your wine! Now, the HOW of decanting! An effective wine decanter should be large enough for a 750ml bottle of wine to fill it half way. It should have a wide base, which narrows as it rises. This provides maximum exposure to air – REASON #2. Wines that improve with aeration, which are typically young bold wines, may be decanted from minutes to hours, depending on the big-and-boldness of the wine and how much time you have allotted for the process. We don’t only decant to increase aeration. Many of the wines that age the best, (high-quality red Bordeaux, Vintage Port, quality California Cabernets), are also produced without fining or filtering and therefore have sediment. The sediment adds complexity as the wine ages, which enhances the drinking pleasure. Seeing and consuming the sediment definitely does not, which leads to REASON #3: Removing sediment. This needs to be a much more gentle and specific procedure. Step A is to place the bottle upright one day in advance if possible, allowing the sediment to settle at the bottom. Step B is to shine a light (traditionally a candle but flashlights are now common) through the shoulder of the bottle while pouring slowly to see when the sediment may be at risk of flowing out. Older wines should typically only be decanted if they have sediment and then only for a short period before serving. To whatever degree wine-experts can agree on anything, most say almost any big, bold young red wine can benefit from at least a quick decant and wines with sediment will also show their best when decanted. In addition, even many white wines – especially those with considerable oak-treatment – open up with decanting. What it really all comes down to is YOUR enjoyment (OK I tricked you REASON #4 is the same as REASON #1)! If decanting; whether it’s the sediment removal, release of yummy molecules or just the ceremony, adds to your wine-pleasure that’s all that really matters!
To make this feature interactive, I invite readers to e-mail me with any wines questions or topic suggestions. Lou Phillips is a Level 3 Sommelier specializing in guiding private collectors and businesses. He can be reached at (775) 544-3435 or Wineguru123@gmail.com

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