Decanting Wine Guide: How & When to Decant Wine

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

Waiter pouring red wine into a wine decanter.

This Decanting Wine Guide will give you all the ins and outs of decanting wine. We’ll look at the benefits of decanting wine, different ways to decant, how long to decant, which wines benefit the most from it, and which don’t. You can even experiment to taste the difference between a wine that has been decanted and one that hasn’t.

2 Reasons to Decant Wine

1. Decanting wine introduces oxygen into the wine which makes the flavors and aromas come alive.

This type of oxidation process is a good thing and actually helps the wine to open up (bring out the flavors and aromas) and become more enjoyable. You’ll just need to ensure the wine doesn’t sit out too long or it will become oxidized and taste flat.

2. Decanting helps separate out any sediment that may be in the wine bottle.

While you won’t find sediment in every bottle, you’ll eventually come across a bottle that has this. It helps to keep that sediment out of your wine glass because it can add grittiness to the texture and the wine will look cloudy. This is not an appealing aspect when serving wine.

Wine Decanting Experiment

Taste the difference for yourself! You’ll be amazed. I know I was the first time I tried this.

To experiment, pour the wine straight from the wine bottle into a glass and without swirling take a sip. Then pour the wine into a glass through an aerator (or swirl in the glass) then take a sip. When I’ve tried this with a red, tannic wine the tannins really soften and aren’t as biting.

How to Decant Wine

1. Infusing the oxygen.

Decant your wine by pouring wine from the wine bottle into a wine decanter letting the wine cascade along the side. An aerator is also a useful tool to introduce oxygen into the wine.

If you don’t have a decanter or aerator, then pour the wine into a pitcher and let it breathe for a bit, then using a funnel pour it back into the wine bottle (the only reason to pour back into the bottle is simply for the esthetic — keeping up appearances). Another option is to pour a serving into a glass and swirl the wine around to introduce oxygen into the wine.

2. Separating the sediment.