The when, why and how of decanting wine?

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So you’ve perfected the art of cooling wine to the ideal temperature and embraced expert glassware usage but, there’s something missing. What could it be?

Decanting, the art of pouring wine from the bottle into a fancy vessel without disturbing the sediment is the final ingredient to lift your fine wine to the seventh heaven.

The benefits of decanting are astounding, akin to alchemy and worth the investment in a Riedel decanter.

Decanting wine allows wine to breathe as well as filter out sediment.

3 reasons wine connoisseurs decant certain wines:

  1. To separate sediment at the bottom of the bottle from the liquid.
  2. To enhance the flavour through aeration.
  3. To save the wine in the event of a disintegrated cork.

Which wines should be decanted?

Wine decanting is more than a one size fits all operation and is only recommended for young, strong wines with more intense tannins. These include Malbec, Shiraz (Syrah), Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux and Burgundy.

South African wineries produce some of the world’s best wines and are well worth supporting. When you are looking for a locally produced Malbec to enhance in a fancy glass decanter, consider Blaauwklippen Malbec 2019, La Couronne Malbec 2016 or Paul Wallace Black Dog Malbec 2017.

If you are looking to spend under R200 for a good locally produced Malbec, give Anura Reserve Malbec and Klein DasBosch Malbec 2017 a try.

If happiness for you is found in a glass of Shiraz/Syrah, then a red wine decanter is just what you need to add a dash of “je ne sais quoi” to your favourite locally produced vin rouge (red wine) .

Not sure which South African Shiraz to marry to your wine decanter?
Try Reyneke, Reserve Red 2012, Keermont Steepside Syrah 2012, Porseleinberg Syrah 2013, Boekenhoutskloof Syrah 2012 or Leeuwenkil Heritage Syrah 2012.

Pairing a high-fat wagyu streak with a complex Cabernet Sauvignon calls for a red wine decanter

Cabernet Sauvignon is rich in tannins and the black pepper and tobacco flavours are further enhanced with a wine decanter. Pairing a succulent, high-fat wagyu streak with a complex and layered Cabernet Sauvignon complements both.

Look for Stark-Conde 2017, Diemersdal, The Journal 2018 and Ernie Els, Major Series 2017 on your next visit to the bottle store. Also consider La Bri, Limited Release 2017 and Boschendal 1685, 2017.

Whoever aspires to be a serious wine drinker, must drink claret – a red wine from Bordeaux, or wine of a similar character made elsewhere.

South Africa produces a few Bordeaux blends that every serious wine drinker should have in their collection. Normandie Eisen & Viljoen 2015, De Toren Book 17 XVII 2017 and Vilafonté Series C 2016 all fetch four-digit prices and are rated by in the upper four range.

The primary red grape grown in Burgundy is Pinot Noir so, when referring to “red” Burgundy, people are talking about a Pinot Noir.

red burgundy uses pino noire grapes

Some of the best South African Pinot Noirs to decant include De Grendel Op Die Berg 2018, Flying Cloud Sovereign of the Seas 2018 and Iona Elgin Highlands 2018. ON the little more pricey end of the scale, Shannon Rockview Ridge 2018 and Tesselaarsdal 2019 are also good choices for your favourite wine decanter.

When serving decanted wine, don’t discard of the empty bottle. Hang on to the empty bottle and cork, not to pour left-over wine back into the bottle but, to display alongside your decanter so that your guests know what they are drinking.

decanting wine

How to decant wine

Patience and a light hand are essential requirements for expert wine decanting.

  1. Carefully remove your bottle of wine from horisontal storage and sit right for a full day before decanting. This will allows the sediment to settle at the bottom of the bottle.
  2. Once the sediment has settled and the wine is ready to be decanted, carefully open the bottle of wine.
  3. Tilt the neck of the bottle toward the decanter at a below 45-degree angle. This will prevent the wine from spouting forth into the decanter and disturb the sediment.
  4. Slowly pour the wine into the glass decanter at a steady pace. Keep an eye out for any sediment moving towards the neck of the bottle.
  5. If any sediment approached the neck, stop pouring, tilt the bottle back up and start afresh.
  6. Finish pouring, leaving a little of wine in the bottle with the sediment.

Wine can be decanted up to four hours before serving but is best enjoyed within 18 hours of pouring into the wine decanter.

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