If you are just starting off with your wine journey you must have been wondering what purpose decanter serves and whether you need to get one. Professional sommeliers and wine experts use decanter on a regular basis. Some of them have huge collections at home, suitable for any type of wine and occasion. How can you benefit from decanter? Is it just for aesthetics or can it actually improve wine flavor?
History of wine decanter
The first known glass decanters appeared in Syria in 5,000 BC. Nonetheless, the spread use of decanters became common during the era of the Roman Empire. Decanters were initially used for storing wine. The first decanters were made out of clay, but people soon realized that clay does not bring any good for wine and turns it into vinegar.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, glass decanters were not used anymore. Instead, bronze and silver ones appeared. The glass decanter made a major comeback during the European Renaissance. During that time, the Italians invented the decanter shape we are used to seeing today: long narrow neck growing into a wide body, making it perfect for both aeration and removing sediment.
What is the use of the decanter
You might be wondering what type of wine needs to be decanted. Basically, the decanter can be used for any wine, but it will be serving a different purpose depending on wine age.
As a rule, young wine does not get to have enough time to develop their unique flavor in barrels or bottles, therefore, they need to be decanted for longer times. Experts suggest that you should take at least half an hour before drinking the wine. The younger the wine, the more time it takes to decant, sometimes up to 3 hours. The oxygen helps to expose true wine flavor. The larger the wine surface area exposed to the air, the faster the oxidation process is. This is how the decanter shape serves its purpose. The process of aeration starts chemical processes which significantly change the quality of the wine. 30 minutes sounds like a long wait, but we promise you will not regret it!
The reason why old wines need to be decanted is excessive sediment, that appears in the bottle over time. Aged red wine has sediment due to the chemical reaction of phenols and tannins. The wide shape of the decanter's bottom collects the sediment fast due to wine sitting shallow on a larger surface area which helps the sediment settling at the bottom faster. The narrow shape of the neck along with its curvature helps to prevent the sediments from pouring into your glass hence you can enjoy the pure flavor. It is not recommended to leave old wines long in the oxygen as it might ruin the flavor. There is no rule of thumb for all wine in general, but half an hour is usually enough. If you see that the wine becomes pure and the sediment is going down for less then 30 minutes, feel free to serve the wine.
Nowadays you can find various types of decanters on different market places ranging between 20$ and 200$. If you are just introducing yourself into the wine world, we do not recommend investing more than 30$ into the decanter. Traditional glass decanter would do its job well.
If you are still hesitating whether you need one, we say yes! It will take your wine game to a new level and introduce you to the wine flavors you never expected to experience.