So what is decanting and why do people want to do it to wine?
de·cantdəˈkant/verbgerund or present participle: decanting
gradually pour (liquid, typically wine or a solution) from one container into another, especially without disturbing the sediment.“the wine was decanted about 40 minutes before being served”
To decant a wine, you pour your wine into something that has a wide base and a more narrow neck. It is typically made of glass. In a really tiny nutshell, that’s all there is to it. There are things that you need to take into account for of course, like if there is sediment in your wine, you’ll need to make sure that you don’t pour that into the decanter. And as with everything, there is a proper technique as you will want to pour it into the neck area to disperse the wine and therefore increase its exposure to the air. There are tons of videos around showing you how to perform this.
So why would one want to do this? Well in the past many wines needed decanting because there was solid matter (sediment) in the bottle and this was needed to be done to remove the matter. But nowadays, some wines are filtered so much that you would find it hard to find any sediment in them. Other wines, however, like the older reds and the vintage Ports, have sediment in the bottle that you will want to remove before drinking. The sediment gives a bitter flavor, so it is best to get rid of it. The sediment comes about when you have bottled wine for a long time, around 5-10 years.
Another reason to decant would be to increase the wine’s contact with oxygen. This is more essential for younger wines as they have had less time to develop. With older wines, the cork lets in a little bit of oxygen, so time has given it a chance to build up its complexity in regards to taste. Many people believe that decanting will improve the flavour of a wine.
But how long should one decant for? And this is hard to say, but as a rule of thumb, younger wines will need to be decanted longer and older wines for a shorter period.
You can decant any type of wine that you want, there’s no restriction. You can even decant whites, but they don’t require it as much as reds do.