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Decanting wine: what does it involve and why do we do it?

Decanting wine is an art. A technique that, when it’s done well, can take our wine-drinking experience to the next level. Do you want to know what it’s all about?

Keep reading to find out what decanting a wine involves and why this process is important and learn how to do it at home step by step.

Para qué sirve decantar un vino

What does decanting involve and why do we do it?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘to decant’ means “to gradually pour (wine, port, or another liquid) from one container into another, typically in order to separate out sediment.” Though this definition is correct, it hardly teaches us anything about the art, don’t you think? What this definition doesn’t tell us is that decanting a wine is also a technique for brining out the different notes in the drink.

By decanting, we improve the qualities of a wine, since we release the flavours and the aromas that could be hidden in the bottle until we open it.

As such, decanting plays three main roles:

  1. It aerates the wine (since it brings the wine into contact with the air)
  2. It improves its bouquet
  3. Gets rid of or filters out the sediment in the bottle
Is the any terminology that you don’t quite understand? Take a look at our wine dictionary

Which wines can you decant?

Now we know what decanting means and why we do it, there’s another question that we need to clear up: do we need to decant every single wine? The answer is no.

In general, it is only recommendable to decant red wines since they tend to accumulate more sediments. However, regardless of the type of grape, this process is only done on vintage wines (such as our Coto de Imaz Reserva) or if a wine has been in the bottle for a long time.

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When should you decant a wine?

In our article on how to store a wine at home, one of our recommendation was to lay the bottles horizontally to conserves the wine’s flavours and aromas. However, when it comes to decanting, the best thing to do is to set the bottle upright a few hours before serving.

What does this do? Basically, it helps the sediments to separate from the wine and sink to the bottom of the bottle, ensuring that they don't end up in the glass.

How should you decant a wine?

Although decanting essentially involves pouring the liquid from the bottle into another vessel, there is a certain technique involved and certain materials you should use in order not to ruin the product.

The most practical option is to use a decanter, an elegant vessel with a wide base and a thin neck, preferably made of glass. This is the perfect vessel because it allows the wine to come into contact with the air and be aerated, but, at the same time, the aromas that it gives off do not suddenly dissipate.

4 basic steps to decanting

Once you have all the materials ready and you’ve had the bottle in an upright position for the time necessary, (you could even do this the day before), you can start decanting!

Follow these steps:

  1. Check that the sediment has settled at the bottom of the bottle. You can hold it up to a light to get a better look at what’s in the bottle.
  2. Then pour the wine into the decanter slowly and smoothly. Try to get the liquid to slide down the walls of the vessel so that it doesn't splash against the bottom. If not, you could ruin the wine. Stop once you start to see the sediment.
  3. Holding it up to a light again, check that no sediment has ended up in the decanter.
  4. Allow the wine to rest for a couple of minutes just before you serve it, (never too far in advance), and you’re ready! Raise a toast and sample the wine.

What do you think? Get the most out of the body and personality of your wine and enjoy an authentic experience for the senses.

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