To decant or not to decant? An age old question when it comes to optimizing your enjoyment of older wines. Before you polish your decanter, let’s ensure your collection is continuing to age well at home. This guide will assuage your concerns and help you get the most out of each bottle in your cellar.
The Ideal At-Home Cellar
The single biggest influence that you can have over your wine collection is controlling the temperature in which it is stored. No amount of decanting will revive wine that has been exposed to heavily fluctuating or temperatures that are too warm. If attempting to build a collection of wines that you would like to age, resolve temperature first. Ideally the environment would remain stable and cool anywhere between 45°- 65°F.
Second to temperature, bottle position and light exposure are the next to influence your collection. Ensure that each bottle is laid on its side, allowing the wine to be in contact with the cork. Wine ages through the cork, so by keeping it moist you slow oxidation, which rapidly ages and deteriorates the condition of any wine. Additionally, you’ll extend the life of your wine collection by limiting fluctuations in light exposure. While having a much smaller impact than temperature fluctuations, wine will age best in darker environments.
Now that we’ve ensured your wine is aging optimally while at home, let’s return to our initial question: decanting. Decanting a wine accelerates the natural aging process, enhances the aromas and flavors, and removes sediment that has developed in the bottle.
When opening a current vintage wine, you can enhance its characteristic by speeding up the aging process through decanting. The rapid oxidation that you’re trying to prevent in your older wines can actually benefit young wines by bringing them into their prime sooner without the lengthy stay in your cellar. While uncorking a bottle to let it breathe will also allow the wine to oxidize, using a proper decanter will speed up the process exponentially.
Steps for Decanting Current Vintage Wines
1. Pour the wine into the decanter and swirl the liquid to increase oxygenation.
2. Allow the wine to rest in the decanter for at least 30 minutes.
3. Pour into your favorite wine glass and enjoy!
The primary objective when decanting older wines is not to expedite oxidation that has already been happening at a steady clip while aging in your cellar. In fact, the aim of decanting aged wines is to separate the natural sediment that has collected in the bottle over time. Aged wines tend to be more delicate and do not require robust oxygenation through decanting. Be gentle with your older bottles.
Steps to Decanting Older Vintage Wines
1. With the cork intact, set your bottle upright for approximately 24 hours prior to service to allow sediment to settle to the bottom. Once settled, you’ll be able to see the sediment by holding a light to the bottom of the bottle.
2. Pour the bottle slowly and steadily into the decanter, stopping before you pour the sediment.
3. Pour into glasses and enjoy immediately after decanting. We recommend enjoying every last drop of wine whenever you open an older vintage, as it will not weather additional oxygenation on the counter for the next day well.
Your Opportunity to Enjoy a Library Vertical of Chester-Kidder
We are delighted to offer a virtual tasting of our Chester-Kidder Red Wine, where you’ll have the opportunity to implement these guidelines and compare vintages with our winemaker Gilles Nicault, president Dane Narbaitz, and founder Allen Shoup. On Friday, October 9th, at 5:00 pm, they will lead a tasting experience through the 2009, 2010 and 2011 vintages of Chester-Kidder. Check your cellar or purchase the Chester-Kidder Vertical Virtual Tasting three-pack online and RSVP to our ZOOM event here.