You would think that serving a wine would be as simple as taking the cork out of the bottle and pouring it into any available glass. You can certainly enjoy your wine by doing just that, but if you want to enjoy it as the winemaker intended, there are some steps that you should follow. These include storing the wine correctly, choosing a suitable glass, and decanting the wine to allow it to breathe. Following those steps will almost always ensure that you get all the aromas and flavors contained in the wine that you are drinking. For the purposes of this piece, let’s talk a little more about decanting.
While most people seem to believe that the art of decanting is for the sole purpose of releasing those aromas and flavors, there is in fact another very good reason why it is done. Older wines will start to develop a layer of sediment inside the bottle, and in order to get the best flavor possible, that sediment needs to be removed prior to the wine being poured into a glass. This is where the decanter comes into play, but transferring the wine into the receptacle from the bottle takes a little bit of work. This is where the art of decanting comes into play.
The first step you need to take when decanting a bottle of wine is to allow it to stand upright for a period of around 24 hours. In order for wine to be properly stored, the bottle should be put away on its side. This will mean that the sediment will gather on the side of the bottle, making it impossible to decant the wine without sediment being present. 24 hours is usually enough time for the sediment to shift back to the bottom of the bottle.
Once the sediment has all settled to the bottom, you are going to have to add a clean decanter and a light source of some kind to your arsenal. The clean decanter is self-explanatory, but the light may be not. The reason for using a candle or a flashlight is so that you can see where the sediment is in relation to the mouth of the bottle. Your goal is to get as much sediment-free wine as possible into the decanter, which means halting the pouring when the sediment starts to reach the neck. As you may have guessed, the pouring process should be done slowly and carefully.
Depending on the age of the wine, you should be looking at letting it breathe for around 30-60 minutes, with the shorter end of the time scale reserved for the older wines. There are some wine lovers who may be a little concerned that there is some wine left in the bottle after the decanting process, but this is wine that does not need to go to waste, as it can be used for cooking. This is a great way to ue every ounce of wine in the bottle.