A controversial and debatable issue in the world of wine is decanting. Anyone will have seen, perhaps more frequently in the past than now, how at the next table the sommelier or the person in charge of the dining room of a restaurant poured the bottle of wine, usually expensive, into a glass container with a narrow neck and a very wide base before pouring the wine into the glasses. It is a
Its main functions are to eliminate possible sediments from the bottle, to oxygenate long-lived wines that have been closed for a long time and, in certain wines due to the characteristics of the grapes and their production, to help them express their aromatic potential with greater oxygenation.
The truth is that the world of wine sometimes incorporates a series of gadgets that may not be as necessary as what we are told when we acquire them and whose functions are usually rather limited. In the case of decanters, we should bear in mind as a basic rule that young wines, in principle, do not require decanting since they are intended for short-term consumption and the aromas are expressed at the first taste without any need for additional aeration.
In aged wines, the use of a decanter will depend more on the structure of the wines themselves than anything else. There are powerful wines that can benefit from additional oxygenation in addition to the usual gesture of stirring the wine in the glass or the option of opening the bottle in advance, although this is usually indicated on the label.
Decanting is useful in the case that we can see with the naked eye the formation of sediments in the bottle. In this sense, it is common for many wines to have sediment because they are bottled without filtration to reinforce their primary character or simply because of the passage of time. However, if we are going to decant the wine, we must know that the bottle must have remained in a vertical position for several hours so that the sediment, by gravity, has been deposited at the bottom of the bottle.
Oxygen, oxidation, is sometimes dangerous for stability. Therefore, decanting involves a risk. There are experts who only recommend decanting in the case of very old wines, although it is a process that must be done with great care and delicacy because the wine can suffer a ‘bajonazo’ in a matter of minutes.
In short, decanting is a recommended practice in specific cases and, in most cases, the wine label itself will indicate whether it is appropriate.