How to decant an old wine?

by SoDivin
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Décanter un vin ancien

Tasting an old wine is a unique experience. This is why, upstream, it is preferable and even advisable to decant the wine. However, this is not a mandatory step. The decantation phase aims to “remove” impurities from the wine, to avoid ending up with a deposit in the glass during tasting.

Which wine to decant?

Decanting concerns old wines, for laying down, which have aged for a few years in the cellar. When the bottle begins to be 15 to 20 years old on average, it is then preferable to decant the wine before tasting it. On the other hand, this action can be risky for very old bottles because there would be a risk of oxidizing the wine during the decanting process.

Decant the wine vertically

First, take your bottle out of the cellar. Let your bottle stand for a few hours before opening it. From then on, the natural deposit will gradually slide towards the bottom of the bottle, which will facilitate decantation. Then open the bottle of wine and carefully wipe the neck. From then on, you have the possibility of serving and tasting the wine or continuing the decantation with a decanter.

Decanting wine with a candle and carafe

To decant a wine, all you need to do is use a candle and gently transfer the wine into a carafe, in order to keep the particles and deposits of the wine at the level of the shoulder of the bottle. The light of the candle will make it possible to see the natural deposit arriving. It is essential to limit movement because the aim here is to reduce contact between the wine and the outside air to avoid oxidation. Stop pouring just when the deposit appears at the shoulder of the bottle.

Decanting or carafe, what’s the difference?

Decant an old wine

Decanting an old wine by candlelight

Decant vs carafe

Be careful, do not confuse decanting and carafe. Even if the carafe makes it possible to carry out these two actions, the latter do not however have the same function and the same objective at all.

Decanting concerns young wines (only a few years old). Often robust and closed, young wines are decanted for a few minutes (or a few hours for some), to allow the wine to be slightly aerated and to fully reveal its aromas.

While decanting, as said previously, is a more delicate action which aims to separate the natural deposit of the wine but in no case to aerate it.

Our selection of vintage wines

Château Latour 1961

Château Latour 1961

Rated 97/100 by Robert Parker Wine Advocate in june 2011

“Tasted blind at the château, it’s always a privilege to taste a legendary wine from the perfect provenance, even if I couldn’t bring myself to call it the perfect wine. But it has an ethereal bouquet that concentrates like a laser: notes of pencil lead, mint, blackberry and limestone. Curiously, there is a touch of menthol that emerges with aeration, which reminded me of the ’45. The palate has an intensity of ‘another world with vibrant dark fruit, arching tannin structure, brilliant minerality and a captivating sense of precision on the finish. It has become more elegant in recent years, perhaps at three-quarters of its drinking plateau. But few wines have a drinking plateau as long as this one.”

Château Mouton Rothschild 1945

Château Mouton Rothschild 1945

Rated 100/100 by Robert Parker Wine Advocate in october 2019

“Medium to dark brick in color, the nose of the 1945 Mouton Rothschild is atomic. It explodes from the glass with the brightest, most lively black cherry compote, kirsch and raspberry pie notes you can imagine. full-bodied on the palate is rich, decadent and very densely layered, strutting deliciously ripe, fine-grained, loamy tannins.The overall character is paradoxical: both deeply mature and yet breathtakingly youthful. won’t bring tears to your eyes, nothing will.”

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