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Using a Decanter: How & When to Let Wine Breathe

If you’re new to wine (or new to decanting), today’s blog will walk you through what decanting does, what its purpose is, and what wines are served best by decanting. While some people will take a hard stance on decanting and its effects (good or bad), we believe in giving you the tools to make those decisions yourself. So, without further ado, let’s answer: what exactly is decanting?

What Decanting Is (& What It Does)

Decanting exposes wine to oxygen, allowing the oxygen to change the flavor profile of the wine. That’s the most straightforward answer, but it’s not the whole story—after all, what difference would oxygen make in changing the flavor of your wine?

Quite a bit, as it turns out.

The flavor and texture of a wine, as we’ve discussed before, is partially shaped by its tannin content. Tannins provide what we wine experts call “structure” to wine. Oxygen helps to integrate the tannins into the wine, which allows the other flavors and aromas to come forward. When this happens, the wine is “opening up.” This is also called aerating the wine.

How to Decant Wine

As a rule, younger wines will need to decant for longer than older wines. But the amount of time for decanting is all wine specific and based upon an individual’s own palate. It can be fun to taste through wines as they decant for minutes, hours, and even days.

The type of decanter you use may affect how long it takes to decant a wine. The width of the decanter’s opening will determine how quickly the wine aerates, so adjust timing accordingly. Wide-mouth decanters take less time. Narrow-necked decanters require more.

We suggest you experiment with decanting. Find out what you like—this is what will make you into an expert in your palate. That’s the key to enjoying any wine!

You’re invited to enjoy wine with us at the Theorem Vineyards estate! Take a tour and enjoy a tasting among the incredible redwoods and mountain vistas with us. For more information, contact us here.