Jeff’s Corner

Bon Jour, Hola, and Howdy!

Today we are going to continue from last week and talk about decanting a wine. First, however, I want to thank everyone for all the likes, comments, and support regarding last Mondays post mentioning that I had been invited again to judge the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. All of you are most awesome! I did not want to be “a one hit wonder,” and to be asked back is an incredible compliment.

Decanting a wine is an option that goes beyond simply letting it breathe in the glass or bottle. When we decant a wine, we pour it into a glass ”decanter”. The best decanters are made of high quality glass with good clarity, and should have a narrow neck that expands into a large bowl at the base which allows a lot of surface area for the wine to be in contact with air.

There are two reasons to decant. The first is to accelerate the breathing process of a young, assertively tannic wine. In this case, it’s okay to aggressively pour the wine (glug, glug, glug) into the decanter. This aerates it even more.

The second reason is to separate the wine from any sediment that may have collected in the bottle. Sediment occurs naturally in old wines, and we see it in young wines that had very little filtration. In this case, decanting can be a little tricky.

Since the wine has probably been stored on its side, the sediment will run the length of the bottle and could be slightly stuck. If so, the bottle will need to stand upright for anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days to allow it to settle around the punt (dimple) at the bottom. A light shone from the back of the bottle will tell us when gravity has done its job.

Pouring an old wine off its sediment should be done slowly and gently for two reasons. First, we want to monitor its movement in the bottle and stop pouring when it reaches the crook in the neck. Again, we can follow its progress with a light from the back side. A candle is very romantic, but a small flashlight works best.

Second, and why we should be gentle, is that older wines require much less aeration, and fruit flavors fade quickly once in contact with air. These should be served soon after decanting.

We’ll see you soon…