A few weeks back, a friend of mine asked me about decanting. What is it? Why do it? What wines do I decant? You name it. To be honest, there’s no easy answer and no correct answer, as a recent New York Times article attests. The second paragraph sums it up best:
While the procedure is simple enough, the reasons for decanting, or not decanting, are hotly debated and little understood, even among experts. Proponents generally cite two benefits: pouring wine off the sediment that develops as some wines age, and exposing younger wines to air to bring out their aromas and flavors.
While the debate can delve far deeper, more detailed, and nerdy, that’s really the gist that most people need. It’s pretty much only red wines that need decanting. If you’ve got a young bottle, it will almost NEVER hurt to decant it. Give it some air, and let the aromas and flavors come out. If you’ve got a bottle with some age on it, decant it gently to separate the wine from the sediment. If you’ve got an older bottle…it depends.