How to decant

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Some authorities argue that bottles that have been stored horizontally should be disturbed as little as possible before being decanted, so transfer them to either a decanting cradle or a (much more expensive) decanting machine. The alternative and more common method involves much more contact between the deposit and the clear wine, standing the bottle upright for as long as possible before opening, certainly a few hours for wines which have a great deal of sediment, to allow the sediment to fall through the wine to the base of the bottle. Whichever method is used, ensure that the decanter looks and smells absolutely clean, and find a strong light source against which the bottle can be held (a candle, flashlight, desk light, or unshaded table lamp will do). After opening the bottle, as gently as possible, and wiping the lip of the bottle clean to avoid any possible contamination, particularly if the capsule is old enough to contain lead, steadily pour the contents of the bottle into the decanter watching the lower shoulder of the bottle with the light source behind it. The sediment should eventually collect in the shoulder and the pouring action can be halted as soon as any sediment starts to spill into the bottleneck.