2006_01_food_decanter.jpg“Hello, my name is Gothamist and I’ve been decanting for 3 years now. It started with port and it quickly escalated to grand wines of Bordeaux and bold Italian wines. I’ve done it in restaurants, at home and even at a family picnic. It’s not that I can’t stop, it’s just that I don’t want to.”

There seems to be this misconception that decanting is just for expensive, older wines. However most people don’t realize that many inexpensive and youthful wines can greatly benefit by spending some time in the decanter.

Decanting is an easy way to soften young, tannic red wines and encourage the development of complex secondary aromas…in other words, brings out the delicious flavors that would occur if the wine spent years aging in the bottle. It’s not that the decanter is some revolutionary time machine vessel, in fact we’ve used a (very well washed) vase as a decanter before we found it necessary to spend too much money on fancy wine contraptions from Riedel. The decanter is just a container that is used to aerate the wine or remove sediment. The bottle of wine is poured into the decanter, swirled around a bit, allowing the wine to spend some time in contact with the air. Another reason to decant a wine is to remove sediment. Sediment can develop in older wines that have aged in the bottle for quite a few years. Decanting to remove sediment requires a little more skill, as you need to pour the wine into the decanter in a smooth steady stream, being careful to stop pouring just as the sediment reached the neck of the wine bottle.

Gothamist has found that many restaurants don’t necessarily offer to decant your wine and therefore you often have to request it. Although Gothamist is pleased to report that just this month the waiters at Otto and Bar Carrera suggested decanting our wine selections before we could even bring it up. The best way to tell if your wine should be decanted is to taste it. If you are drinking a young red wine with strong tannins that are slightly astringent than you should probably consider decanting the wine.

Decanting is a great way to bring out the best of a wine. It’s something we often don’t think about or do but can add complexity and alluring aromas to your wine. Once you taste the difference in a wine that has been decanted you may also develop this decanting habit. But don’t worry, you should know that you are not alone.