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To decant, or not to decant...

Posted by CM Support
Apr 12, 2012 | Keywords: Clos de la Tech  decanting  Erlenmeyer  Half Moon Bay Wine and Cheese Company  Riedel  wine  

Is decanting an art? A science? An affectation?

After years of experimenting with many wines, we’ve found that decanting can be helpful. Every vintage is unique and though Pinot Noir is not necessarily a wine that one would associate with decanting, it turns out that our 2007 likes the aeration. Moreover, other red wines such as Borolo benefit often.

White wines are a different story, and generally don’t need to be decanted except on the rare occasion that there’s a visible amount of sediment in the bottom of the bottle. We do understand the point of view of Eric Asimov of The New York Times, who has written that young white wines should be decanted, the main benefit being that their flavors loosen as they warm up. We prefer to just let the chilled wine sit for a few minutes to warm slightly.

Decanting is only necessary for two reasons—a wine is young and therefore tighter, or when there is sediment. In fact, if you have a mature wine, its flavor will change quickly once exposed to air and you should drink it within hours. Not a problem, right?

So, with a Burgundian Pinot Noir like ours, decanting would only be necessary if there is some sediment like our 2000, or if you were uncorking one of our newer vintages like our just released 2007 that needs to breathe. Our wines are made to age, and they get better and better over the years.

When tasting one of our moderately aged vintages, like the 2006, we’ll pour a few ounces into a glass and swirl it actively. This allows the wine to breathe slightly so it becomes softer and the fruit comes through more.

Try doing the same with an even younger wine. Pour, and leave that glass sitting for a couple of hours after taking a sip, and you’ll find the same transformation.

T.J. is very serious about the quality of wine he drinks as well as what he serves his customers. He personally designed the simple wine distribution system using the “winekeeper” faucets to preserve the opened bottles at the tasting bar at our wine store—The Half Moon Bay Wine and Cheese Company.

The staff pours each wine into an Erlenmeyer flask, the typical glass beaker you’ll remember from high school chemistry class. It’s an aesthetic that not only resonates with the chemist in T.J., but also has earned its reputation in the wine world. The Times’ Eric Asimov sang the praises of the Erlenmeyer flask in 2006, and they remain popular for decanting.

We would echo Asimov’s caution that a fully aged red wine should only be decanted to remove the gritty sediment that we don’t want poured into the glass.

If you do decide to experiment with decanting, you can find a graceful and functional decanter, among Riedel’s selection, available at our wine store. The staff loves to share their knowledge about decanting and will readily show you how to do it.