The Decanting Debate
You may be surprised to learn that there is much debate over the value of decanting wine. So is wine decanting a tradition of a bygone era? Or does it assist wine in developing deeper complexity and softening potential flaws?
The practice of decanting wine began in a time pre-filtration when wine inevitably had sediment deposits in every bottle. One would decant a wine so as to be able to enjoy drinking rather than labour through chewing the bitter residue. These days most wine is heavily filtered and so does not require filtration to remove any sediment. If a wine does contain sediment, it is always worth gently decanting it, perhaps even through a cheesecloth in cases where the cork has crumbled.
So is there a value to decanting wine for the sake of taste? There are a few schools of thought. It is widely believed that contact with oxygen promotes an “opening up” in wine that results in a more pleasant drinking experience. Experts are far from in agreement on this point, however. Wine critic and journalist James Suckling teaches that “nearly all wines benefit from decanting for even a few seconds, if only for the aeration.” He adds further that “the only wines that shouldn’t be decanted are sparkling wines, like Champagne.” On the other side of the spectrum is wine critic, author and journalist Jancis Robinson who writes in her book ‘How to Taste, A Guide to Enjoying Wine’ “the results of comparative tastings of samples of the same wines opened and decanted at varying intervals before tasting have been suspiciously inconclusive. Furthermore, some authorities argue that the effects of aeration can only be harmful.” Why? The thought is that delicate red wine, especially those that are more than 20 years old, will only lose their delicate bouquet with contact to oxygen and deteriorate all too quickly. Many experts do agree that young, full-bodied reds benefit from aeration provided by decanting as a little oxygenation allows some of their aggressive youthfulness to mellow.
One way, though, to firmly sit astride both sides of the debate is to aerate your wine in your wine glass, rather than a decanter. This gives you full control of the amount of aeration you prefer and you can experience the opening up or deterioration of the aroma of the wine in real-time and judge for yourself the optimal stage for drinking.
As in many decisions regarding the best way to enjoy wine, decanting really is a matter of personal preference. The only way to truly decide if decanting is worthwhile is to open a bottle of wine and drink it. Then open another bottle of the same wine and decant it, then drink that one too. Let us know which one you prefer!
-“The Oxford Companion to Wine”. Jancis Robinson and Julia Harding. Oxford University Press. 2015.
-“How to Taste”. Jancis Robinson. Simon & Schuster. November 2008.
-MasterClass. “What Is Decanting Wine? When, How, and Why to Decant Your Wine”. Written by MasterClass. Nov 8, 2020.
-Wine Enthusiast. “When Should You Decant Wine?“. Tammie Teclemaria. July 3, 2018.
2017 The Moo Shiraz is a playful deviation from our flagship Lotties Shiraz. A full-bodied wine that embodies the spirit of Barossa artistry.
Showcasing the region’s strengths, 2017 is a robust and complex, textural experience driven by bright fruit intensity aided by two and a half years of barrel maturation. Expect an aroma of red berries and coffee, while the robust palate bursts with cherry, raspberry, chocolate and mint with a peppery finish that is rounded out by soft tannins and hints of prune.