wine-decanterThe question of whether or not to decant a bottle of wine isn’t one that comes up often these days. The very sight of a decanter can seem quaintly Old World: a once-useful but now slightly-fussy artifact akin to a Russian samovar. Indeed, the greatest reason for decanting is to separate a wine’s heavy, often bitter sediment from its liquid, a more pressing concern with older reds. This mode of decantation demands a steady, artful hand to horizontally angle the bottle just enough to get the liquid out while leaving the chunky bits in. But, honestly: if you’re drinking the kinds of vintage that require this feat, you can just get your butler to do it.

Aeration is the primary reason for decanting younger, sans-sediment wines, meaning most reds these days. Oxygen plays a huge role in the development (i.e. improvement) of a wine’s taste, with particular benefit to those on the lower end of the price spectrum. Decanting for aeration is a breeze: open wine, pour into decanter, wait twenty minutes, enjoy. Too fast? Feel free to wait two hours before that first taste, especially for high-tannin wines like syrah and Barolo. Too slow? Speed things up by pouring the wine between two decanters (or, the funneled original wine bottle) a couple of times.

What about white wines? Decanting won’t make much difference in taste, but it sure will make them look pretty.

Speaking of presentation: why not arrive at your next dinner party with a tasteful gift decanter along with the expected guest-bottle of wine? Your connoisseur points will double!