Some red wines should always be decanted. Others don’t really need decanting but you may consider it for a few specific reasons. Decanting is a process that allows the sediments in red wine to settle down. Decanting is an age old practice. The basic concept has remained unchanged for centuries. The vessel we use to decant wines today has also remained the same for over three hundred years. Let us quickly discuss the basics of decanting a red wine.
• First, you need to buy a decanter. This is basically a glass vessel. It could also be made of crystal. Some people use metal decanters or earthen ones. Glass or crystal would be ideal. You get to see the wine in such vessels. Go for a decanter with a stopper so you can control how much air you want to let into the vessel. Since you would be allowing some air to come in contact with the wine, decanting will also have the effect of aerating a wine. This is actually desirable. All wines need some degree of aeration. Don’t aerate a wine too much. If you are decanting a red wine, there may not be any need to buy an aerator.
• A red wine may take anywhere from five minutes to two hours to be completely decanted. Even the best wine may take up to two hours. What determines this is the age of the wine. The older a wine, the more sediment it shall have. Hence, you would have to be more committed to the decanting of a red wine if it is expensive, old and rare. Usually, the thumb rule is that a red wine older than ten years should be decanted. Any wine that has too much tannin will need more time. Hence, the likes of Chianti, Syrah, Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino would taste much better if you decant them for two hours or longer.
• You should always decant expensive wines. Cabernet sauvignons, Barolo, Aglianico, Chianti, Syrah, Montepulciano d’Abuzzo, Tuscan wines, Malbec and Petite Sirah would need to be decanted. You should always decant Bordeaux. There are some red wines that have a strong aroma and many people may not like the essence right after the bottle is opened. If you have such a red wine, then you can decant it for a while. The aroma will be completely gone or significantly more pleasant. This applies to fresh and young wines too. The common process of decanting effectively leads to aerating such wines.
When experimenting with decanting wines, the best idea is to go through an independent seller who has a variety of wine deals available. That way you can decant a wide range of red wines without breaking the bank.