In times gone by, before so many wines were routinely fined and filtered to a crystal clear state, it was quite common for wines poured from both barrel and bottle to contain a considerable degree of solid matter. In order to avoid bringing an unsightly looking wine to the table, it was quite the norm to decant the wine into a suitably resplendent receptacle. The need for such a receptacle led to the development of the many and varied elegant decanters which are available today.
Most wines on the shelves today, however, have no real need for decanting. The winemaking process ensures the wine is thoroughly clarified (even if it may mean stripping the wine of some of its flavour) before it is bottled, by a process of fining (passing egg whites, bentonite clay or other unsavoury substances through the fine to collect solid matter) and mechanical filtration. Although these wines are often best served from the bottle (after all, you’ve paid for the label), many others still benefit from decanting.
Wines which have aged in bottle, typically red wines rather than white, will generally throw a sediment by perhaps ten years of age or more. Not only is this sediment displeasing to the eye, it can also be quite unpleasant in the mouth. More than any other wines, these are the ones that deserve decanting. Young wines also benefit from decanting, although the aim is not to take the wine off its sediment (there is rarely any such sediment in young wines), but rather to aerate the wine. The action of decanting itself, and the large surface area in contact with the air in the decanter, alters the wine, softening its youthful bite and encouraging the development of the more complex aromas that normally develop with years in bottle. For this reason even inexpensive wines plucked from the shelves of the local supermarket can benefit from decanting, if a first taste reveals a tannic, grippy, youthful structure.
The Vinturi makes wine decanting simple.