Decanting wine – does it make a difference?

The initial pour - from bottle to measuring jug!

There was once a time, many years ago, when I had a massive chip on my shoulder. No, let’s be honest, it was more like a whole king Edward, perhaps even a bag of king Edwards. I was a massive, inverse snob. Over the years I’ve managed to whittle it down to perhaps the size of a french fry and I’m still working on it. Maybe it’s my working class upbringing, maybe it’s because I’m from Yorkshire, maybe it’s because I’m a malcontent, angry at the world! Whatever the reason, from time to time it will notify me of it’s presence like some sort of potato based ponce alarm…

Recently, my brother and my good friend Rob have extolled the virtues of decanting red wine. At the very notion of such a thing the french fry lodged on my shoulder goes into high alert, quivers and starts dancing around shouting ponce, ponce, ponce! However, once I start to absorb what I’ve been told it starts to calm down. There must be something in it. People have been doing it for years and I’m sure it wasn’t something they did just to show off how posh they were, decanting wine in the street over the poor in the gutter! My brother works in the bar trade so knows a thing or two about booze and Rob, who likes the finer things in life, has been watching a Christmas DVD about wine.

There’s seems to be some debate out there around the merits of the two main reasons for doing it. Sediment and aeration. Some say that decanting for aeration isn’t advisable on delicate wines such as Pinot Noir but is fine for heavier wines such as Barolo. Others say that the effect of aeration is negligible. The case for decanting for sediment is similar with some wine experts saying it’s not necessary on modern wines. However, Rob had a fine bottle of Chianti he wanted to try it on and I was only too willing to help him out!

This decant was for sediment. We weren’t leaving it long for aeration (which actually turns out to be a good thing as Chianti is considered one of the wines too delicate for aeration), we just wanted to separate the good stuff from the sediment. But what should one decant into? Turns out you don’t need to be too proud about that one, we decanted straight into a glass measuring jug! Rob poured slowly so not to disturb the sediment and leave as much in the bottom as possible. From the measuring jug we poured one glass and from the bottle (with sediment) we poured another. Visually you could instantly see a difference, quite a lot of sediment was sitting in the bottom of the glass from the bottle and the wine looked darker and harder to see through. Taste wise I initially struggled to tell the difference but then I tried it with my eyes shut. A blind taste test. This time I could tell instantly which had the sediment in and it wasn’t pleasant! So I spent the remainder of the evening drinking wine out of a measuring jug and who would have thought that was more sophisticated than drinking out of the bottle?!

My sophisticated decanting vessel
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