Decanting Wine: An Expensive Waste of Time?

Posted by The Wine Whore |

If the real purpose of decanting is to filter out the "crud" from the rest of the wine, why do so many people waste their time decanting bottles of wine that don't have sediment?

I think that you should always taste the bottle of wine before decanting or manipulating it in any other way. Only if I feel it will ADD anything to the experience, will I EVER decant my wine.

This begs the question:
Should a good bottle of wine NEED to be decanted or are we just snobbishly infatuated with geeky glassware and ridiculous rituals?

What do you think? To decant or NOT to decant... that is the question!

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brian tannebaum said...

Sediment? I decant to let the wine breathe more than it would in the bottle. I think it's a waste of time to open a bottle and drink out of it when putting it in a decanter (even a cheap one) can change the taste remarkably, you whore.

@amaaanda said...

Purely for the cool factor. Decanters look sweet! ;)

The Wine Whore said...

LOL! Brian, I love it when you talk dirty to me! :) How would you say it actually changes the taste of your wine by decanting as opposed to whorish chugging from the bottle?

So does the quality/price of the decanter make a difference?

I have to admit @amaaanda, they do look sweet!

What's the coolest looking one you've ever seen?

@amaaanda said...

Definitely this little weirdo: http://the-strange-decanter.blogspot.com/

drinknectar said...

Randy, I rarely decant my wine. I'm in agreement that it should be tasted first. What if you taste it and like the way it presents itself. Decanting MAY open that up even more, but then again it MAY not. To your point - decant if you feel it will ADD to the experience.

Brian - Mr. Whore is not abstaining or recommending abstaining from all decanting, but mearly posing the question to all us blow hards who like to read his stuff.

Josh @nectarwine

C'est Beth said...

Wine (and other beverages) do react with glass, and decanting it does aerate it, but you can get the same effect by pouring it into a glass and swirling it around. And you can aerate it by leaving it until the next day in the original bottle.

The Wine Whore said...

LOL! @amaaanda, I've seen that crazy looking thing! What the hell is it supposed to be anyway? A mangrove? :)

I joke, but you all know that if someone gave me one of those, I would think it was the coolest thing since, well... the wine opener!

Right! Phat high-five for drinknectar for being reasonable about this whole decanting thing.... Brian, he's right! I'm just having fun making fun of something we ALL do because we love wine and want to suck every bit of awesomeness from each bottle.

Beth, I've also seen people just pour the wine from one glass into another to get the same affect... Personally, I'd rather swirl, but just don't stand too close to me or you'll end up with it all over you! :)

Kate said...

I decant my reds, mainly because the wines I drink are probably slightly young, and because why not? I have the fun toys.

Maybe I'm also naive to think that it will always make the wines taste better. Maybe I will try sipping it first...

The Wine Whore said...

Kate, I have to admit that wine toys, even if they don't do anything, are undoubtedly VERY COOL!

Whether or not it will make it taste better is definitely a good question... you should totally try it next time before decanting just to see how you like it! Worst case, you can always decant the bottle after a glass or two.

Let me know if you give it a shot! Perhaps would make for an interesting blog post! :)

Anonymous said...

I only do it at nice restaurants so that people sitting next to me can say "wow, I didnt know you could request one of those fancy glass thing's". I've done the decanting vs not decanting wine test and decanting won the battle. The wine became more complex and tasted a bit nicer. Done with 2004 Martinelli Terra Felice Syrah. Cheers! @fgj1013

The Wine Whore said...

LOL! It is quite impressive!

Have you ever tried the decanting test with varying quality bottles of wine?

Anonymous said...

I love the cool glass ware for decanting, but i have never noticed any differance in the taste.. I do have a range of wines i have tried and never really noticed a significant difference... Love Ania

Anonymous said...

Not yet... ;) I think I will start to call myself, "The Wine Myth-Buster". What do you think? @fgj1013

VA Wine Diva said...

I rarely decant, although I should more often as many of the local VA reds I've got benefit from the aerating. It's not really a stance on my part, however. It has more to do with laziness and an unwillingness to get one more thing dirty I'll have to wash later.

Leanu said...

I've been in retail wine for a while now, and have done many tests concerning glassware/decanting. As far as decanting goes, I have found that the more fruit forward wines (inexpensive cab, shiraz, merlot) do not benefit quite like a young rustic Italian from decanting, but that doesn't mean one shouldn't decant.

Oxygen is while wine is being bottled and stored is it's worst enemy, but when a bottle is first opened oxygen is wine's best friend. Aerating will certainly open up a wine and make, say, a young Brunello approachable. This is best done with a decanter, as you cannot do in a wineglass what you can do with a decanter simply by swirling.

I have also found that decanters that allow the most possible surface area to be in contact with the air work best for this purpose.

The Wine Whore said...

HELLO ANIA!! How are you doin'?

Sometimes I've noticed a difference... but I don't know if I would spend $500 on something crazy to do it. I'd rather put that money into a nice bottle of wine! :) I do have to say that it would be impressive to walk in with some sort of Frankenstein looking apparatus at the next party. I mean, come on! Who wouldn't think that was cool!

@fgj1013... that's a great idea! In fact, if you want to be the Wine Myth Buster, I'd post your myth busting feats of awesomeness right here! What do you say?

That's a great point! I have enough trouble cleaning my glasses once I'm trashed... how the hell do you expect me to clean some ridiculously fragile contraption that I can't even get a paper towel in? I even bought some of those bendable cleaners, but that's still a HUGE pain in the ass!

Anyone have an easy way to clean their decanter?

Leanu, surface area really is the key to aerating. I like your point about the fruit forward wines... that's exactly what I was looking for! What types of wine decant best?

Has anyone had a bottle of wine that tasted WORSE after being decanted?

Tom Johnson said...

There is no single thing you can incorporate into your wine drinking that will improve the experience more than understanding when to decant wine. And the answer to "when" is often. A half hour in a decanter that allows a lot of air contact brings the fruit forward and lets some of the bad bottle aromas -- sulfur, for example -- blow off the wine. It's especially effective with the tight, young red wines that most people drink.

Leanu is right: Short, wide decanters with maximum surface area work best. I bought mine years ago for $11. It makes an amazing difference.

The Wine Whore said...

$11 for a decanter ain't half bad!

What about the pain in the ass of having to get all of those nooks and crannies... How do you clean yours?

Joe said...

yeah, I like to. Or, just pour the wine in a huge glass and notice how it develops over the course of drinking it.

The Wine Whore said...

Hello Joe! :)

I've got one glass that can almost hold an entire bottle... it's fun just to fill 'er up, sit down, and just enjoy!

How have you been?

Dezel said...

Tom hit the nail on the head for me; I tend to decant young aggressive reds that are high in tannin. He or she who does not decant may pass the wine off as overly astrigent and miss out on the charms that may or may not emerge by exposing the wine to air for a short time. As for cleaning, they make beads for that - "decanter beads"! Happy Sipping bro :-)

Joeshico said...

I hardly ever decant. Some wines recommend decanting on the back label. For some reason I do decant them. I also like to decant wines over 8 yrs old. Don't ask why, it's just habit.
As far as tasting different, I would not know, because I never taste before I decant.

Mark Wine said...

Decanters do not have to be expensive but a good amount of red wine will benefit from the aeration. About the only red wines I do not decant are pinot noir & well aged Bordeaux reds.

The Wine Whore said...

It's really cool to see the difference in decanting rituals out there. I have to agree you Dezel, decanting should help with tannin, just like aging does.

So, then the interesting thing is how Joeshico likes to decant wines that have been aged? Hmm... is that because of just "force of habit" or because it tastes better to you?

Mark, on the other hand, it's cool to hear that you don't decant Pinot Noir and well aged Bordeaux Reds (which both don't have much tannin). Is that your reasoning? Just curious!

In my opinion... Whatever you do to your wine, as long as you enjoy it, is entirely OK and up to you!

Just make sure to pour a glass for someone else! :)

Jay D. Ducote said...

Taste first, decant if it needs to be opened up a bit. I've never decanted for sediment, only to let it breathe. I've noticed a difference in some wines before and after decanting, for better and for worse, so it definitely should be tasted first. The price and style of the decanter I imagine only matters for the cool or "wow" factor. Cheap ones let wine breathe just as well.

The Wine Whore said...

It sounds like tasting first is definitely the best way to go! You said something interesting....What would make the wine actually taste worse after decanting?

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