August 30, 2009

To Decant or Not to Decant...

Ever hosted a party with a prized cellared wine? Happened to have hosted a similar gathering but substituted with a younger option? Ever fully understood which of these two prized posessions needed to be decanted and which might not necessarily need it?

Have no fear! We have a few quick tips to help put you on your way:

1) Old wines that have been cellared will likely contain sediment because of the aging process. By properly decanting the wine, the sediment will remain in the bottle (hooray - no weird floaters!)

2) Young, full-bodied red wines can also benefit from decanting because as the wine takes in oxygen, the aromas are released. (Tip: If you choose to decant your red wine, choose a wide bottomed option as it has more surface area for the oxygen to allow aromas from the wine to be released. Spiegelau has two great new options, the Siena and the Riva. Wait to read below).

3) Using a decanter can simply be for presentation. After all, a delicious wine in a beautiful crystal casing adds to the ambiance and experience.

Putting it to the test! First, the bottle..

I picked up a bottle of '05 Abbotts Flavius (Coteaux de Languedoc) from The Traveling Vineyard (after all, the South of France normally never steers me in the wrong direction). Interestingly enough, this bottle definitely exuded different characteristics straight out of the bottle vs.
when decanted.

Next, the decanter...
I grabbed the new Riva decanter from Spiegelau because I adore its versatility. I was planning to enjoy a simple dinner at home and it parlayed with pure elegance with everyday style. Its flat bottom and curved walls provide a generous surface area which allowed for maximum breathing space. The gently undulating walls also helped ensure that I could swirl the wine well and aerate further when pouring.

Comparing before and after...
  • Out-of-the-Bottle: Dark ruby in color, you can immediately smell the alcohol content off the nose. Luckily it steadily fades into more creamy notes of both dark fruit and prune scents. At the taste, its very woody, acidic and even a bit spicy, but the unique thing is that it had a very tart-like finish.
  • After Decanting: After letting it breathe, the flavors really opened up and the acidity was a bit more subtle and balanced which gave it a renewed freshness in sort. More flavors came through including, hints of dark berries and pepper in the upfront and tobacco and chocolate on the finish.
And the verdicts in...

This wine actually won a silver, highly recommended best buy for France at the 2007 World Wine Championships, and I personally trust the authorities, so long as you decant it properly (might I add I would also suggest pairing it with a light meat to make your experience most enjoyable).

Where to Buy the Wine: The Traveling Vineyard
Cost: $14.99

Where to Buy the Decanter: Spiegelau
Cost: $99.00