Decanting might seem like an overly fussy step when serving wine, but it’s key for separating sediment from an older or unfiltered bottle, and for aerating a younger vintage to allow the aromas to become more pronounced and for the tannins to mellow out.
Sommelier Devon Lochhead shows us how to do this professionally and, more importantly, with style.
1) Prepare your decanting station.
Ensure you have at least one cloth, a decanter, a candle or torch, a wine glass, a wine opener and a wine puller (used for older vintages as the corks may be brittle). If your wine is relatively old, it should remain horizontal in order to prevent the sediment being stirred up.
2) Present the bottle to your guest for approval.
3) Using the knife on your wine opener, remove the foil capsule by cutting below the lip of the bottle.
4) Assess the cork and decide whether to use your wine opener or cork puller.
5) Remove the cork and wipe the opening of the wine bottle with your cloth.
6) Pour a tasting portion into your own glass and sniff for possible faults. If satisfied that the wine is good, pour your guest a taste for their approval.
7) Once approved, tip the contents of your glass into the empty decanter and swirl in order to rinse the decanter with the wine to be used. Pour the wine back into your glass.
8) Now pick up the bottle positioning it above the candle or torch so that the light shines through the neck to shoulder portion of the bottle. Slowly pour the contents of the bottle into the decanter until you see the solid deposits (or sediment) moving towards the neck of the bottle. Once you see this, stop pouring.
Note: younger heavier wines may benefit from double decanting. This simply means pouring the decanted wine back into the bottle, or pouring the wine between two decanters. This can be done more vigorously to really open the aromas.
9) The wine is now ready to be served!