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These Types of Wines Need to be Decanted & These No

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If you like wine, then this question has undoubtedly occurred to you. What types of wines need to be decanted, and which do not?

Generally, younger red wines and some white wines do not need to be decanted, while older red wines and certain white wines can benefit from decanting. However, there are no hard and fast rules, as the need for decanting can vary based on the specific wine and personal preference.

Read below for more tips on what types of wines need to be decanted and what wines do not. 

What Wines Should You Decant
What Wines Should You Decant

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Can All Wines be Decanted

Technically, all wines can be decanted, but not all wines necessarily benefit from the process. Decanting is generally used for red wines, especially those with high tannin levels, sediment, or older ones.

However, certain white wines and even some rosés can also be decanted to allow them to open up and develop more complex flavors.

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Decanting can generally help to aerate and soften wines, bringing out more aromas and flavors. However, decanting may be too aggressive for lighter wines or those with delicate flavors and can cause the wine to lose some of its subtleties.

So, while technically all wines can be decanted, it’s generally recommended only to decant those wines that will benefit from the process and to consult with a sommelier or wine expert if needed. You can also keep reading to learn which wines will benefit most from decanting! 

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What Wines Should You Decant

Red and white wines can both benefit from decanting. Red wines that may benefit from decanting include full-bodied and tannic wines such as:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon,
  • Syrah,
  • Bordeaux blends.

Older wines with sediment that need to be separated before serving are also on the list of red wines that need to be decanted. Young wines that need aeration to soften their tannins and release their aromas and flavors must also be decanted. 

Specifically, White wines that may benefit from decanting include full-bodied white wines like oaked Chardonnay and some aged white wines that have developed sediment or need aeration to express their flavors fully.

TIP: Can you put a wine decanter in the dishwasher? A dishwasher is not ideal, considering the decanter’s age, shape, size, and quality. Check out the best way to clean your wine decanter in this article. Read this article to discover if you can store opened wine in mason jars – the answer might surprise you!

Which Wines Should Not Be Decanted

Which Wines Should Not Be Decanted
Which Wines Should Not Be Decanted

Lighter red wines like Pinot Noir and Beaujolais typically do not need to be decanted, as they have fewer tannins and a shorter aging process.

Similarly, most younger white wines and rosé wines do not need to be decanted, as they do not have as much tannin or sediment.

Do You Need to Decant Cheap Wine

Whether or not you need to decant a cheap wine depends on the specific wine and your preference. More affordable wines, especially those meant to be consumed young, do not necessarily benefit from decanting.

The main reason to decant a wine is to aerate it, which can help to soften harsh tannins and release the wine’s aromas and flavors.

However, cheaper wines typically have less tannin and are meant to be consumed while still young and fresh. Therefore, they may not need more decanting than older or more full-bodied wines.

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  • Champagne Stopper by MiTBA: Wine stoppers for sparkling wines are different. This wine stopper seals your bottle and increases the pressure so your beverage’s bubbles won’t go to waste.

However, there may still be some cheap wines that could benefit from decanting, mainly if they are particularly tannic or if they have some sediment.

Additionally, if you find that cheap wine is very closed off or tight when you first open it, decanting can help to open it up and reveal more of its character.

Ultimately, whether or not to decant a cheap wine is a matter of personal preference. If you enjoy the process of decanting and find that it enhances the wine’s flavor, then by all means, go ahead and decant it. But if you find the wine perfectly enjoyable straight out of the bottle, there may be no need to decant.

TIP: Does a wine decanter need a stopper? Decanters with stoppers are only helpful if you often do not finish your decanted wine. Find out more in this article. Is there really a difference between cheap and expensive wines? Find out here.

Can You Decant Half a Bottle of Wine

Yes, you can decant a half bottle of wine, although it may not be necessary for a wine that small. Decanting is typically done to aerate and separate a larger volume of wine from sediment, so for a half bottle (375 ml), there may not be enough wine or sediment to make decanting necessary.

However, decanting can still be helpful if you have a half bottle of an older red wine that has developed sediment. Just be aware that with such a small volume of wine, you’ll need to be careful not to over-aerate it, which can cause it to lose some of its character.

When decanting a half bottle of wine, it’s best to use a small decanter to accommodate the smaller volume.

You may also want to adjust how much time you allow the wine to breathe since a smaller volume of wine will generally require less time to aerate.

If you are unsure whether to decant a half bottle of wine, consulting a sommelier (wine expert) is always a good idea to advise you on the best approach for that particular wine.

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Now that we have learned precisely what wines need to be decanted and what wines do not, let’s recap exactly what it means to decant wine and why you would want to do it in the first place.

To decant a wine means to pour it from its original bottle into another container, typically a glass or crystal decanter, before serving. Decanting is to aerate the wine and separate it from any sediment that may have accumulated in the bottle.

This is because when wine ages, it can develop sediment, a natural byproduct of aging. Sediment comprises tiny particles of grape skins, stems, and seeds that have fallen to the bottom of the bottle. If the sediment is not removed before serving, it can create a bitter or gritty taste in the wine.

Aeration is the other main reason to decant a wine. Aeration allows the wine to breathe and softens any harsh tannins that may be present. This process also allows the wine’s flavors and aromas to develop fully, enhancing the overall drinking experience.

The bottle is typically opened to decant a wine, and the neck is held over a light source to check for sediment.

The wine is then slowly poured into the decanter, not disturbing the sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Once the wine is in the decanter, it is left to breathe for a period, which can vary depending on the wine and personal preference.

Overall, decanting wine is a process that helps improve its taste and aroma, as we learned n the article above.

It is often recommended for older or full-bodied red wines, young wines that need to soften their tannins and release their aromas and flavors, those with tannins and sediment, and those considered tight or closed-off when you first open it. 

Sometimes, decanting a wine can be seen as a ritual or a way to enhance your entire wine experience. In other words, some see decanting wine as less necessary and more of a show. That is why you can find wine decanters on many wedding registry lists and inexpensive retailers such as Crate and Barrel! 

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