Tag Archives: decanting the wine

Do I Need to Let the Wine Breathe?

Question from Holly: Do I need to let the wine breathe? Is using a Vinturi or some other aerator the best way to go?

Reply: Hi, Holly. This question is so common that I decided to give it the royal treatment and posted it to amillioncooks.com

Hey, readers – have you found an aerator that you like? Or do you have a favorite decanter? I’d love to hear about it!

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Do Those Wine Aerators Really Work?

I did an informal experiment a few years ago, using only used one kind of aerator, the Vinturi. Here are the results: 

Since then lots of different styles have come out. What do you think? Have you had any luck with any of these aerators? 

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What’s This Gunk in my Wine?


Question from Shelly: I have a bottle of port that someone gave me. It’s got gunky stuff just below the bottle neck. Is it okay to drink? 

Reply: Hi, Shelly. Thanks for writing! There’s nothing to worry about when you see that “crust” on the shoulder. It’s quite natural for full-bodied, intense Port wines to throw a significant amount of sediment as they age, particularly when they’re not filtered. In fact, sediment is so much expected and accepted that there’s actually a small category of Port wine called Crusted Port

What it tells me, is that the person who gave you the Port picked out a good one. 

Vintage Port is the top of the line and a tiny part of  the total production of Port. It’s released, unfiltered, after two or three years of barrel age and those lucky enough to own one should plan on aging it at home for at least a few more years before drinking it. There are many of the opinion that you shouldn’t even think of opening Vintage Port until it’s at least ten years old. During those years of bottle age, sediment forms and, assuming you’re storing the wine sideways, it settles there in the shoulder. 

It could also be a LBV (late-bottled vintage) that wasn’t filtered or a Single Quinta (a vintage-dated, single-estate Port but from a lesser year than normal Vintage Port). And, of course, it could be a Crusted Port. Continue reading

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Do I Need to Decant the Wine?

Question from Janice: On the back label of a wine I just bought it says to decant it for an hour before serving it. Which wines need to be decanted? How do I know how long? Does it matter what kind of decanter I use? 

Reply: Hi, Janice. Thanks for writing! You can decant just about any wine except for a bubbly, but reds seem to be the wines that benefit the most. Especially vintage Port. 

There are two different reasons to decant your wine. In short: 

1. To help young wine become more expressive.
2. To remove old wine from its sediment. 

Many of us like to decant young reds because it makes them more expressive. Wine that, initially, seems to have nothing to say may open up like a fragrant flower on a warm afternoon! If there’s any off aroma, it will blow off unless there’s something really wrong with the wine. It’s fine to splash it around a bit to give it some extra aeration.

I’m not very scientific about how long. Big reds may need more time than the lighter ones. An hour or two should be plenty of time. 

TIP! I like to taste the wine before decanting it so I can enjoy the way it evolves over several hours.  Continue reading

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