Wines: 10 basic rules of when and how to decant them

Why do you have to decant a wine? It's really necessary? We show you all the keys to decanting wine

The origin of this wine service protocol stems from the idea that wine is like a living being: it is born, grows, evolves and dies. In this way, a certain bottle can contain a wine that has been kept in barrels for a long time or in the same bottle until it reaches its final destination.

During this time of life, which lasts a few years, new situations in its constitution have always been created due to lack of oxygen, appearing strange odors, stinks or simply aromas of reduction, which if not eliminated will spoil the wine tasting.

These "anomalies" are not harmful to the wine itself, or to the health of the consumer, but they do disturb the tasting and can even take away much of its appeal.

To eliminate the problem we can resort to decanting the wines. Decanting is the operation of pouring wine into a decanter in order to aerate and improve the flavor of certain wines.

Decanting has two basic functions: on the one hand, the elimination of sediments in very old wines and, on the other, the aeration of closed wines, or very tannic and powerful wines, so that they open or soften in a way that better shows all their flavor. .

This is literally the case, but in practice it is required to carry out the decanting operation with a certain technique that goes beyond simple racking. Decanting must be done with extreme care when dealing with very old wines, as excessive oxygenation can have very damaging effects.


What we are trying to do is to cure the wine of a “mild disease”, and the “medicine” is none other than to re-oxygenate it, but, yes, doing it very carefully so as not to spoil it.

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Since ancient times, the wine connoisseur proceeded to uncover the bottle some time before drinking it, and innocently thought that the exit of bad smells and entry of the oxygen that it lacked could be done through the narrow neck of the bottle when uncapping it. Recent studies have shown that the aeration that occurs through the neck of the open bottle is minimal and very slow. On the other hand, any wine connoisseur knows from his experience that wine tasting improves substantially after decanting.

Although there are several ways and "gadgets" to decant wine, the use of decanters is imposed as a convenient, fast and effective method to recover the oxygenation that the wine had lost.

The decanter is a container, generally made of glass, with a long neck and a very wide and domed base. There are different types of decanters, but in principle they all fulfill their mission.

To decant it is essential to follow some basic rules:

  1. Before decanting, smell and taste the wine to drink in a glass to appreciate the state in which it really is and if we should use a decanter as well as the approximate time it will take (the worse the smell, the longer).
  2. SoftlyWe will pour the wine into the decanter, making sure that it slides inside along the walls of the container. The liquid must be poured through the place where it travels the longest to increase contact with the air.
  3. During this process we could observe (perhaps with the help of contrast with a light, formerly a candle was used) how some deposits appear and a certain change in color.
  4. Once transferred the wine to the decanter, we will let it rest next to the bottle from which it comes.
  5. Although modern Production techniques make decanting unnecessary for most wines, any wine with a certain aging time (greater than one year between aging and bottle) will improve to a greater or lesser extent with oxygenation. Decanting is also almost essential for very old wines with many years of aging.
  6. The dwell time in the decanter will vary according to the age of the wine. In this sense, there is no standard rule, it is best to try the wine. In any case, the stay in the decanter must be relatively short because we are not going to improve it any more for more oxygen that we give it.
  7. To facilitate and accelerate oxygenation can be rotated the decanter in concentric circles smoothly but steadily. However, this operation must be carried out with great delicacy and when the wine is very old, the less movement the better, because that age could be lost with an intense oxygenation that would destroy those qualities that it has achieved precisely with its old age. In fact, in very old and very valuable bottles it is customary to serve directly from the bottle with caution and without moving it too much. We try to prevent these wines from losing their bouquet, the fruit of time, and that we would suddenly lose with the air.
  8. The decantation will be done at the last minute before going to the table or just before serving. Never too far in advance.
  9. We will check that when the wine has been decanted it has become rejuvenated. At least, on occasions, it recovers the most basic of its upbringing and, if it is relatively young, we will achieve that its qualities of fruitiness and clarity that it had in origin emerge naturally.
  10. It is important have a good decanter. That it is sufficient in capacity and with a good filling mouth. Preferably glass, not glass. And have a good base of support. Finally, make it elegant, because it will dress our table.
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The jarreado is similar to the decantation, but in a more crude, violent and even careless way.

Jarrear is to introduce the wine in a decanter or simply a jug, hence its name, to decant or aerate the wine without too many formalities. Let's say that jarrear is to decant a wine with force.

We can jar when the wine requires rapid oxygenation, especially those young wines that present sulfite aromas (of sulfur). To jug, just pour the wine into the jug from about 20-30 cm. high so that the wine "breaks" at the bottom of the container.

I am a dreamer and in my dreams I believe that a better world is possible, that no one knows more than anyone, we all learn from everyone. I love gastronomy, numbers, teaching and sharing all the little I know, because by sharing I also learn. "Let's all go together from foundation to success"
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