5 January 2021
An essential element in table art, the wine decanter is not only an elegant object that looks marvellous on a table. It is first and foremost an essential accessory for a tasting experience.
In truth, decanters are not designed for exceptional occasions. And you do not need to be an oenologist or sommelier to know how to use them. There are many questions on the subject of decanters. All are difficult to answer because they are for wine which, as a living liquid, is rather difficult to pin down!
Remember that every bottle of wine, mainly red wine, may need decanting to be at its aromatic best.
Decanting a young wine (between 3 months and 2 years in the bottle) will be beneficial in most cases, except for light wines bursting with fruit.
The decanter serves two very distinct purposes:
1 – It helps aerate the wine and remove any gas, if necessary.
2 – It decants, meaning it leaves the sediment that may have appeared during the wine’s ageing or if the wine is purposefully bottled with a preparation of some kind.
Maison Jean Loron is particularly careful about oxygen contact when it makes, ages and bottles its wines. The same care should be involved when serving the wine. Every precaution must be taken to guarantee the perfect release of aromas. It is all about finding the right balance.
For young wines and sulphur-free wines that have not had enough contact with oxygen and present a simpler character.
As we mentioned above, it is insightful to decant most young wines just before serving, red wines in particular, as they will be able to fully express themselves as they come into contact with the oxygen inside the decanter. For the youngest wines, it is also important to release any excess carbon dioxide that could strengthen the structure of the wine, giving it a slight sparkle on the tongue which is not always pleasant.
For sulphur-free wines, it is common for the wine to appear less complex when the bottle is first opened, meaning that the aromas are all still “closed”. All it takes is to prepare the wine, to aerate it.
Which decanter? A decanter with a big handle and a wide, flared shape will provide a good amount of oxygen. (Decanter on the right of the photo)
For older wines and wood-aged wines (white and red)
The richer and more powerful the wine, and also the more barrel-aged, the more interesting it would be to decant it. Deprived of oxygen for many years, once poured into a decanter these wines will release their aromas, even the most complex. Barrel-aged wines will also improve with aeration; the other aromas will no longer be masked by the woody flavour.
For old wines, the decanter enables you to leave the sediment in the bottom of the bottle. If the wine is very delicate and fragile, it is better to serve it in the bottle taking care not to “lift” the sediment into the wine; this would immediately spoil the quality. You can serve it in a wine basket to control the angle of the bottle and avoid any mixing of the sediment.
Which decanter to use: a slightly flared and quite tall decanter as the limited volume creates a short, thick flow of wine coupled with moderate oxygenation. The long neck also means you can see if any sediment is about to be poured and stop serving.
Be careful with very old, more fragile wines that may be sensitive to brutal oxidation.
If you do not have a decanter, feel free to open the bottle 4 or 5 hours before serving. Every bottle of wine will improve with a little oxygen to release its aromas.
Beautiful, elegant and with many functions, you have everything to gain by using a decanter on your dining table.