Decanting. Getting some air in there.

A version of this article first appeared in SUNDAY Magazine.

RED WINES are like houses. Most of them are best when they’re brand new; only a few are worth a lot of money once they make it to very old age (and only then if they were characterful to start with) and if you don’t air them out they start to smell mustier than a mountaineer’s socks.

Which brings me to the subject of decanting – a fancy word for getting air into a wine. If you do it right you’ll answer one of life’s mysteries: why does the last glass of a bottle of red often taste the best? It’s not because you’re too drunk to be discerning. It’s because by that stage the wine’s had a good airing out.

Double Decanting

The easiest way to get maximum enjoyment out of a bottle of red then is to use the ‘double decanting’ method. Get a clean jug – any kind of jug – and slosh its entire contents into it. No need to be gentle with your pouring either – I once heard a winemaker say that at this stage he gives the wine a quick whiz with a Bamix, though I personally don’t recommend it. Then simply pour the wine back into the bottle. 

What you’ve done is blown off the wine’s cobwebs. 

The Fancier Option

Of course you can use a fancy glass decanter and let a wine ‘breathe’ in it for an hour or two (which works very well too), but the above method works well with most bottles of red. And with a lot of whites too.

This advice is for young, robust-ish wines. Be more careful – i.e. slower – with older reds.

Basic stuff – but if you want to get the best value out of a bottle – open up the windows, and get some air in.

© The Wine Front 2014.