Be forewarned, if you are looking for a definitive answer on the practice of decanting wine you will not find it here. The opinions about the best ways to serve and drink wine are as varied as the number of labels carried in your local wine shop. Of course, I have my own humble opinion, but more about that later.
The only wisdom that seems to hold true for all wine aficionados is that we should decant older red wines (ones collected and aged for 10 years $$$) when sediment has precipitated in the bottle. Dare I say this is not a problem most of us have to face? Modern wine making has eliminated the sediment problem in most of the wine we drink – younger, more affordable, widely accessible wines.
So why decant? Another function of decanting is aeration, or mixing oxygen with the wine to enhance the flavor, feel and finish. This is where opinions diverge. Some wine experts claim it is best to drink the wine “Au Naturale,” pouring straight from the bottle, enjoying as it evolves over time. Some say it is a good practice to decant both young red and white wines. Others say whites rarely benefit from decanting but most reds, young or old, do. And so on…
Here is my opinion humbly offered after testing hundreds of wines in the process of developing VinoVinti, our flavor enhancing wine accessory. Open your bottle of wine and taste it. If it tastes acidic, harsh, or unbalanced, or if (particularly with whites) there is a slight off-putting odor, then decant. If you’re drinking either white or red wines in the $10 – $25 dollar range you can bet they will be helped with 15 – 45 minutes of “breathing” in a decanter. Decanting will improve the aromas, flavors and finish of these and many more expensive wines.
My very best advice is this: Get a simple decanter like the one pictured. (Forget the artsy, fancy ones. They are a challenge to clean and you will cry when it breaks. $$$) Get two bottles of the same wine. Decant one and not the other. Do a blind tasting. Play. Experiment. Enjoy.
P.S. In case you are tempted to follow the advice to decant your wine with
a whirl in the blender – don’t do it. It’s just plain low-rent.