|Decanting was originally done to very old wine aged for many years even centuries. It seems obvious that there would be sediment and also the wine or rum and even whiskey would be very cloudy. The sediment and the cloudiness would often make the beverage bitter gritty or even smelly. So thus the first centrifuge was created introduced by the Venetians during the Renaissance, known to the connoisseur as a decanter or also called a carafe. But decanting not only serves to clear sediment it often improves the bouquet and over all flavor of the beverage by a processes known as aeration.
Most decanters traditionally hold one bottle of wine the normal size being about 25.4 oz. Although that’s not as important as the shape. Considering the actual function for using a decanter separation and aeration. The traditional oblong shape sufficiently provides both functions.
For separation it is best to pore the wine slowly from the bottle. Don’t shake the bottle up, in fact I find its best to let the bottle stand upright for at least 24 hours in a cool place, especially with a mature aged wine. A newer wine say under 5 years or younger this is not necessary. How ever a newer wine should actually be pored immediately in to the decanter or even disregard the decanter all together with say an inexpensive young wine and just pour from the bottle directly into your goblets. But pore old or new wines down the side of the goblet . This also helps aerate the wine or cognac.
If your enjoying something with a fine bouquet swirl the glass a few times before taking a swig this also helps to release both flavor and bouquet.
Here is a little experiment to try at your next party. Why a party you are probably asking your self? Well that’s just because it works better if some one can help you. Use your favorite wine or beverage of choice. I have found this works best with red wines.
OK here is how it is done. Find a bar towel or something you can ask your connoisseur to ware as a blind fold. Set them some where comfortable. Have a decanter that has rested for an appropriate time say an hour for young wine and twenty four hours for an older wine. Now prepare a glass according to the beverage of choice and pour the first glass directly from the bottle, slowly of course. Have them taste the freshly pored beverage. Oh and pour just about an ounce for tasting. Then pour the same amount from your decanter and ask them to taste it. They should notice a difference as one is freshly aerated and the other from the bottle should have less aroma and flavor as it has less aeration and is less appealing. If they notice no difference it is probable them not the technique as aeration holds high regard among the majority of the connoisseur society.
This also works well with brandies and scotch, which is when you will discover more about the shape of your decanter and how important aeration is to the full appreciation of you beverage. I my self have three decanters that seem to work well with all wines and brandy or cognac. One is shaped like an upside down light bulb. This one seems to be best for all my favorite young wines and brandy. Another one is shaped like a flat bowl shape with a long neck to pore from, this is great for aged wine or cognac with a hard to detect bouquet. But my favorite is shaped like a duck having a spout and it pores from the neck. This one relay aerates young wine very well and looks great at a gathering of any kind. But doesn’t work for beer at all! Ha!ha!ha! I recommend the standard pitcher for beer!
I hope you have fun with this experiment and that this article has helped to simplify decanting and why its so important to decant.