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Beginners Guide to Decanting Wine

All you really needed to know about decanting wine in 2 minutes flat.

Decanting Wine

Get the dish on decanting with Madeline.

How Long Should I Be Decanting Wine?

Decanting wine can take as little as 5 minutes to about 2 hours. The action of pouring a wine from the bottle into a decanter does most of the work of decanting wine instantly!

High tannin wines such as Syrah, Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, and Chianti benefit greatly from a little longer wine decanting.

So, how long should you be decanting a Syrah? 2 hours before drinking. Tricks to speed up decanting wine:

  • Speed decanting wine by pouring the wine once or twice between two decanters (or between decanter and the wine bottle with a funnel)
  • Swirl the wine in the decanter to increase the air/wine ratio.
  • Get a vinturi wine aerator they are fast.
  • Buy a bottle of white wine or champagne to drink while you wait. Time will fly!


Madeline Puckette decanting wine.

What Wines Should I Be Decanting


Decanting any cheap wines because it makes them taste better. Cheap wines can have really awkward rotten egg smell sometimes when you first open them due to sulphur dioxide. Our noses are very sensitive to this smell (some more than others) and it can ruin a wine tasting experience. Fortunately, often this smell can burn off very quickly after decanting wine and the resulting value wine can be very tasty!


Decanting expensive wines, especially massive cabernet sauvignons, Italian wines such as (Barolo, Chianti, aglianico, Montepulciano d’Abuzzo, super-Tuscans etc), Syrah, Malbec, Petite Sirah, etc.


You can decant white wine and pinot noir, however, most do not really need it. You can however decant a very acidic pinot noir if you find it to be too tart, decanting will help smooth out the flavor a bit and make it more palatable.

Are There Special Decanters For Different Wines?

The most practical advice I can give you about special decanters if you actually want to use them is buy something that is easy to clean. There are regular sized decanters for 750 ml bottles and also magnum decanters. In the wine-centric restaurants I’ve worked they have 2/3 as many 750 ml crystal decanters to 1/3 crystal magnum decanters.

Cleaning Decanters

Believe it or not most restaurants do not use soap to clean the inside of the decanters. It’s too difficult to remove all the detergent and this adversely affects the aromas and flavors of wine. A deep clean is okay now and again, I use a hypoallergenic fragrance free soap. Wash the outside with hot water first and rinse the inside with cold water, this will keep the glass from getting foggy on the inside.

Most of all. I don’t recommend putting your wine in a blender. I’ll rant about this later.

Decanters. Why would you use a decanter? Wine is in a bottle, and it’s really tight in there, I can see there is barely any room. So when you pour it out into a decanter it opens it up. You know, when you get home from work and you take your socks off, it feels that good to. I know you’re thinking about it. You can decant a cheap wine, to make it taste better, or to remove sulfur fixings in the wine. You can also decant an expensive wine and remove all those funky flavors, or to make the tannins a little more comfortable with the other flavors. Pinot noir and white wine can be decanted. Absolutely. Pinot noir is more sensitive to light and oxygen, so I would be careful when you decant pinot, maybe don’t decant the whole bottle. When decanting, you’ll want to tip the decanter. Tipping it will expose the molecules of the wine to oxygen more as it touches the side of the glass. If there is sediment in the bottle or you have an unfiltered wine, don’t pour out the entire bottle, just pour out to about an inch left. The sediment will stay in the bottle and your decanter will be sediment free. There are a bunch of different kind of decanters, this one I got at world market for about $15 and it’s the most practical decanter that I own. I use it the most because it’s easy to clean. Cleaning decanters is a pain in the ass. This one is super old and although extremely awesome, I’ll probably never use it. And that one, it looks like a bed pan. Use hot water on the outside and cold water on the inside, which will actually keep it from getting hazy. Then just set it up, like in a mixing bowl with a towel so that it can drip dry.

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About Madeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly

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