When Should You Decant Wine?

Staff Writer
A sommelier's advice on when to open up your wine… and when not to

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

You’ve likely seen wine aerated in a restaurant and maybe you’ve done it yourself at home by splashing the wine into a decanter. But we got to thinking a refresher might be in order. Since all wine is not created equal, all wine does not need to be aerated.

We got some tips from sommeliers and the beverage director for Jean-Georges restaurants, Bernard Sun.

Do Aerate:
•  Usually, red wines that are five years or younger, and young, fuller bodied whites like Premier Cru or Grand Cru white Burgundies, can be decanted.

•  Wines have a lifecycle of their own, and are in a sense alive. Sometimes aeration will help them show better in a glass. The air invigorates them.

Don’t Aerate:

•  Mature wines, both white and red, become more delicate as they age, which means aeration would actually speed up their demise.

Sun said just about any vessel or container can be used to aerate, but that a nice decanter will add to your dining experience.

There are many decanter designs to choose from and some interesting devices that claim to aerate at different levels.

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