t to Decant...
and What and Why
Some months ago, there was a survey conducted on behalf of Decanter Magazine, by an august body of experts into what wines were most improved by decanting - was it old or young, and was it red or white? The result surprised many serious wine aficionados - ('oenophiles' does sound somewhat pretentious doesn't it?).
Of course, one of the reasons for decanting is to separate wine from any sediment; that shouldn't surprise anyone. However, that is far from being the only reason to decant. Young red wines develop by being decanted; it 'knocks off the rough edges' as one wine writer put it; it gives them the properties of a wine with a little more maturity and shows them at their best. The same can be said of older red wines that have been decanted, but it is the older red wines that may have thrown that sediment which needs to be discarded. And of course, vintage Port needs to be decanted because it usually has sediment.
According to the tasting panel, the wines which improved most were young white wines - and this was the result which most surprised the judges. From a personal perspective, I find that most white wines are served far too cold, both in restaurants and in domestic situations because traditionally they are put in a refrigerator, bringing the temperature of the wine to 3-5 degrees C, which is much too cold; most white wines are at their best between 7 and 12 degrees. Restaurants usually have special refrigerators to keep wine at the correct temperature, so then to immerse the bottle in a bucket of ice beside one's table is doing nobody any favours - just the opposite in fact. However, by decanting a white wine that has been in a domestic refrigerator, will raise its temperature sufficiently to correct the problem. Do try it and see! Our pale green decanters are perfect for white wines, but clear decanters do an equally good job in this respect.
Two Pairs of High Quality Pale Green Decanters c.1830
Incidentally, none of the panel recommended aerators which have become quite the fashion over the past couple of years or so.