How to Decant Wine

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006 at 12:00 am

decanting wineDecanting is recommended for wines with sediment.  Often an older wine will throw particulate matter such as pigments or tartrate crystals.  A younger wine may have tartrate crystals. 

First agitate the bottle to loosen any sediment that is clinging to the side.  Then allow the bottle to rest upright until the sediment has settled to the bottom.  The time depends on the type of sediment, with tartrate crystals settling rather rapidly (half an hour) and pigments requiring much longer (several days).  You may want to allow two weeks to be on the safe side.  If you wait longer, you will not hurt the wine.

Remove the capsule and cork carefully without tilting the bottle.  Use a cloth to wipe off the rim of the bottle.  Find a bright light or window.  Position a carafe or a row of glasses so that they are handy.  Hold the bottle at eye level against the light so that you are looking through the wine.  Lift the carafe or a glass to the neck of the bottle.  Tilt the bottle slowly and begin pouring the wine slowly and continuously.  

Do not stop pouring until you see the sediment reach the neck of the bottle, because the sediment will be agitated as soon as you move the bottle toward its upright position.