Aerating or decanting wine? If you’re new to the wine world, the question may feel daunting. But don’t worry: in today’s post, we give you the inside scoop on aeration and decantation, two basic wine processes you need to get acquainted with. Keep reading to learn more!
What is Aerating Wine, Exactly?
Aerating wine is just the fancy name for the process of exposing wine to air. This is important because oxygen causes chemical reactions in wine that result in enhanced flavor and aroma.
Aeration typically involves pouring wine from the bottle into a glass vessel known as a decanter (more on that in a minute), which has a wider surface area than the bottle, allowing more air to mix with the wine. Once in the decanter, wine is allowed to let it sit for half an hour before drinking.
Alternatively, aeration can be done instantly with a specialized aerator that you attach to the bottle. In a pinch, you can aerate your wine by simply swirling it in the glass.
And What About Decanting Wine?
Decanting wine, on the other hand, takes more time compared to aeration, so much so that you should start preparing for decantation a full 24 hours before decanting it.
Decantation is typically done to remove sediments from the wine, improve its taste and aroma, and soften its tannins. Here’s the process step by step:
- Put the bottle in an upright position at least 24 hours before decantation. This allows the sediment to settle at the bottom of the bottle
- Uncork the bottle and pour the wine into a decanter (see below), making sure to keep the bottom of the bottle low to prevent the sediment to flow into the decanter
- If you notice that the sediment is starting to reach the mouth of the bottle, stop pouring and place the bottle in an upright position, then start pouring again
A Word About Decanters
As mentioned above, the vessels used for decantation are known as decanters; they come in different shapes and sizes that vary according to the type of wine you want to decant. As a general rule:
- Small decanters are the preferred choice for light-bodied wines, rose, and white wines
- Medium-sized decanters are better suited for medium-bodied wines
- Large decanters are the right choice for full-bodied red wines
Aeration or Decantation?
Aeration is the best option when you are in a hurry and are serving young, tannic wines. Wines that are high in tannins can taste bitter if consumed too soon after opening the bottle. Aerating these wines will soften their tannins and make them more enjoyable to drink.
In general, you should decant older wines. The reason is that sediments may have built up over time at the bottom of the bottle. By decanting the wine, you can remove the sediments and prevent them from clouding your glass.
The choice between aeration and decantation depends on the type and age of the wine. When it comes to young, tannic wines, you should aerate them so that they can soften and develop their flavors. For older wines, decanting them will help remove any sediments and enhance their taste and aroma.
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