Why should you decant wine and what is the best way to do it?

Decanting wine is a commonly misunderstood practice. Riedel – innovative glassware makers of incredible decanters and technical wine glass ranges, dispel the most common misconceptions in their guide to decanting.

Why should you use a wine decanter?

There are two reasons why people should decant, and they differ based on the age of the wine. Older wines are decanted to remove sediment, and because the wine has been trapped in a tight container for a long period of time.  Exposure to air is beneficial because it allows the wine to breathe and to give a full expression of fruit.

The lesser known reason is to aerate young wines. To speed up the ageing process, they need movement and flow, and the only way to do this is to get them out of the bottle. The wine evolves when sitting in a glass, but it takes an enormous amount of time. Riedel advise to place the wine into a decanter and get some aeration and bubbles in to the wine. The reason of this is to cut the surface of the wine, allow it to breathe and allow it to really start to express itself, as it’s a still young, it needs the air to open up the wine.

How long should you decant a wine for?

Riedel suggest that generally, the younger the wine, the more time it needs. A good guide is to allow anywhere between 1-2 hours in the decanter, the wine will improve dramatically. Some decanters are designed the aerate the wine even faster.

Is there a faster way of decanting your wine?

Shake it up in the decanter. Riedel advise to get it moving, especially if it’s a young wine. The intention is to see bubbles in the wine, you want to hear a snap, crackle and pop. These are the sounds of the proteins and CO2 burning off which allows the wine to improve, become more aromatic and show more fruit. Riedel would only advise to do this with young wines, though.

Riedel offers a lot of different decanters; what’s the purpose of all the different designs?

The purpose of different designs is largely aesthetic, Riedel want to bring theatre and excitement to the table. The ceremony of using a functional piece of art is extremely powerful. Whether you’ve invested £20 or £200 in the wine, the decanter will make the experience much more enjoyable.

Do some decanters work differently to others?

Some of Riedel’s pieces create a vacuum in the decanter, depending on the design. Examples of these decanters include: Mamba, Boa, Escargot, or Ayam. These create air pockets that cut the surface of the wine and aerate it faster, making it perfect for young punchy wines. Older wines would benefit from a more traditional Riedel decanter, so they don’t become too aerated.

Riedel's decanter guide:

Riedel has presented a new edition of the mamba decanter with an elegant and complex design.  In the Fatto a Mano Edition, they have optical blown glass and a black-white-black ornamental line that enhances their dynamic designs. Mamba is perfect for young, wild wines that benefit from this decanter’s dual decanting function.

Riedel Mamba Fatto A Mano Decanter
The Mamba Fatto A Mano Decanter
The handmade Amadeo decanter

The handmade Amadeo decanter shares the same elegant form as a harp. The sculpture-like design of the Amadeo is enough to make it a true artwork and a favourite with every wine expert. 

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