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Mastering The Art of Decanting Wine: A Beginner's Guide

Written by: Chloe Thomas



Time to read 2 min

Decanting wine may seem like a pretentious ritual reserved only for the wine snobs among us, but the truth is that decanting can enhance the quality, taste, and overall experience of your wine. If you're a wine lover who's new to decanting or not quite sure how to decant wine correctly, this beginner's guide is for you. We'll cover all the basics, from why you should decant your wine to how to do it like a pro.

Why Decanting Wine is Important

Decanting wine is the process of transferring your wine from the bottle into a decanter, which is a special serving vessel. The reasons you should decant your wine include:

• Separating sediment: As wine ages, it forms sediment in the bottle. Decanting helps separate the sediment from the wine, improving the flavour and texture.

• Aeration: By pouring your wine into a decanter, you introduce oxygen to the wine, which helps open up the aromas and flavours, making it smoother and softening harsher tannins.

• Presentation: Not only does a decanter look elegant on your table, but it also allows your guests to see the wine's colour and clarity.

When to Decant Wine

Not all wines require decanting, so it's important to know which ones benefit from it. As a general rule, the following wines should be decanted:

Young, tannic reds: Wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Barolo usually have high tannin levels that can benefit from aeration.

• Old reds: As mentioned earlier, older wines often have sediment and can benefit from being decanted.

Full-bodied whites: Examples include Chardonnay and white Burgundy.

Vintage Ports: These fortified wines can benefit from the oxygen exposure decanting provides.

decanting wine barolo

How to Decant Wine

Once you've determined which wine to decant, the next step is to do it. Follow these simple steps:

Set the bottle upright for a few hours beforehand to allow any sediment to settle.

Carefully pour the wine into the decanter, avoiding splashing and leaving any sediment behind.

Pour a small amount into a glass and taste it, noting any changes in flavour and texture. If you're happy with it, enjoy! 

If the wine is still too tannic or harsh, let it sit for a bit longer, tasting periodically until it's to your liking.

How Long to Decant

How long you decant a wine will depend on the type of wine and how long it's been stored for. As a general rule, young wines should be decanted for a shorter period, around an hour or so, while older wines may require up to several hours of decanting, or even longer. It's always a good idea to taste the wine before and after decanting to see how it evolves.

Choosing the Right Decanter

There are countless decanters on the market, ranging from classic and traditional designs to modern and trendy ones. While the choice ultimately comes down to personal preference, there are a few things to keep in mind: 

Avoid lead crystal decanters, as the lead can leach into the wine. 

Look for a decanter with a wide base, which allows for better aeration.

If you're decanting older wines with sediment, look for a decanter with a wide neck, which makes it easier to leave the sediment behind.

If you don’t want to invest in a decanter, using a plastic jug or container will do the trick.


Decanting wine is a simple and elegant way to enhance the quality, taste, and overall experience of your favourite wines. By separating sediment, introducing oxygen, and allowing for presentation, decanting is a useful tool in any wine lover's arsenal. Remember to choose the right wine, and the right decanter, and follow the simple decanting process, and you'll be sure to impress your fellow wine enthusiasts at your next dinner party. Cheers!