Monday, August 14, 2006

Wine Decanters 101

TOLEDO, Ohio, Aug. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Whether you bought a bottle of Cabernet at the local grocery store or are dusting off a vintage Pinot Noir, decanting wine is becoming a popular home entertaining ritual used by the everyday novice to the serious wine connoisseur.

"People don't realize how simple it is to decant wine," said Robert Zollweg, creative director for Libbey, Inc. a leading provider of tableware products. "A simple step like decanting adds a lot of character to your event from enhancing the wine's flavor to adding a decorative flair to the dinner table."

Decanting wine is the simple act of pouring the wine out of the bottle and into another container. As simple as it may be, there are several reasons to do this.

One is to separate the sediments or residue from the wine. Sediments are harmless but taste very bitter and are common in older red wines. Second is to expose the wine to oxygen. Aerating young wines before drinking speeds up the process of aging, softening the wine and enhancing its flavors. Third is to add a touch of ambience to the night. By presenting wine in a decanter, it looks great on the dinner table and adds flair to the event -- an instant centerpiece.

According to Zollweg, decanting isn't very time consuming and all types of wine can benefit from it, including some dessert wines such as ports and clarets. White wines tend to be decanted less often than reds, but doing so adds a touch of romance to the table. Since older red wine has had plenty of time to age on its own, it should be decanted about 30 minutes prior to serving. Whereas young red wines can be decanted up to several hours before serving.

"Think of it this way, the wine has been hibernating -- sometimes for many, many years," said Zollweg. "Pouring wine in a decanter wakes it up -- allowing it to breathe and giving it a chance to exhibit its full persona."

Selecting a decanter is an important decision. The best decanters have a wide body, providing more surface area for oxygen to allow aromas from the wine to be released. With this in mind, Libbey has designed both a decanter and a decanter set.

"Whether you're hosting a large tapas party or dinner for two, your company is sure to be impressed -- and the wine will taste great, too," said Zollweg.

Decanting wine step-by-step

Decanting a young wine is easy -- just pour it into the decanter. Decanting older wine requires a little more finesse. Libbey teaches you how:

     * Stand the unopened bottle upright for a few hours (or a couple of days,
       if possible), to allow the sediment to settle to the bottom of the
     * Screw the corkscrew into the cork, not to push through the bottom of
       it. Remove the cork, and clean inside the neck of the bottle with a
       cloth to remove any cork particles.
     * Steadily, slowly and continuously, pour the wine into the decanter
       until the sediment reaches the neck of the bottle. The remaining wine
       containing the sediment can be discarded.
     * Never clean your decanter with soap. The soap residue can be difficult
       to remove due to the shape of the decanter, altering the taste of the
       wine. Instead, scrub the decanter with a brush, warm water and coarse salt.

The Decanter: An Illustrated History of Glass from 1650