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Make Your Wine Taste Better: When To Decant Wine

- Updated

Want the red wine you bought to taste even better? Try decanting it. Check out 4 tricks on when to decant wine so you will always be prepared. Do you love old wines? Let your mouth water as you learn how to decant very old wines. No corkscrews attached.

1st growth bordeaux 1990 chateau haut brion expensive wine

4 Wine Decanting Tricks

How Long To Decant Wine? (1 Hour / 10 Years)

For every 10 years add 1 hour of decanting. This trick works well on red wines – from Argentinian Malbec to Italian Chianti. How do you decant wine? Check out the Basics to Decanting Wine

Shake That Bottle!

Not recommended for unfiltered wine unless you enjoy grounds in your coffee. This form of decanting makes wine sommeliers very nervous, but we tested it against the Traditional Method, a wine aerator and blending it. This method works for most red wines. Need more proof? Watch Australian Winemaker Mollydooker’s video on this method they call “The Molly Shake”

  1. Open the bottle and pour about 1 ounce into your glass.
  2. Recork or close bottle and give it a brisk shake for about 5 seconds.
  3. Wait for bubbles to dissipate.
  4. Serve wine.

Use a Tea Strainer

Wine sediment is mostly potassium bitartrate (aka Cream of Tarter) and grape skins. It’s easy to remove by filtering the wine with a tea strainer, especially if you don’t have time to use the light method (see below).

Learn To Swirl

Did someone just pour you a glass of overly tannic wine that’s difficult to drink? Not to worry! More than likely that wine will improve over a period of 30 minutes. You can decant the wine in your glass by swirling it. The swirling increases the surface area of wine to oxygen and aerates it just as decanting would.

What About Decanting Old Wine?

Madeline Puckette decants a bottle of 1990 Château Haut-Brion with a flashlight (instead of a candle.)

Watch the video on decanting a 22 year old 1st Growth Bordeaux. Here are the tricks we used to decant it without any tears or broken corks.

  • Leave it Upright Leave the old wine upright one night before so the sediment settles to the bottom of the bottle.
  • Warning: Long Cork Old wines often have a very long cork to make the wine last longer. Because of this, it’s important to make sure that your cork screw is fully inserted in the cork. Old corks are very delicate and will crumble easily; work slowly to remove them.
  • Decant with Light When decanting an old wine, pour the bottle with the neck over a candle or a flashlight. You’ll be able to see a dark line of sediment approach the spout of the bottle and stop pouring before it transfers into the decanter. Watch the video to see this technique in action.
  • Let it Breathe Make your best attempt to leave the decanter alone for 2 hours before drinking. If it’s Pinot Noir you can start drinking almost immediately.
When-to-Decant-Wine
What to look for when decanting wine with a candle or flashlight.

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AboutMadeline 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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