Optimal Decanting Time, Our Guide For Best Serving Times

When to decant wine has and always will be a topic of debate and conversation. At Plonk we have tried to simplify how long to decant and why.

The reason to decant is essentially to aerate the wine and allow the aromas and flavours to fully express themselves. This is particularly important in young reds and also some richer younger whites. But not so appropriate with older wines.

Decanting young wines is typically necessary to help aerate the wine. Due to some modern winemaking practices, when a wine is bottled with little to contact to the outside air it needs help opening up. Pouring this wine and shaking it around in the decanter gives it instant access to oxygen. This interaction options up the aroma and palate. Don’t just take our word for it though, a really cool thing to try, is when you open a bottle, pour yourself a glass pre decanting and taste. Then decant the wine, leave it for the recommended time and then taste the difference and the development.

Older wine becomes slightly more complex. For older aromatic whites, such as Rieslings or Chenins you need to be extra careful when deciding to decant. These types of wine have such a delicate aroma that exposing the wine to that much oxygen can make those subtle florals dissipate and you won’t be able to experience them. Again, the best thing to do is pour yourself a little glass first, nose and taste and then decide if it needs decanting, In our experience, those wines often don’t need any decanting at all. For older reds, this is also a case by case basis. The thing to remember is that as soon as you open the wine, it’s breathing. Part of the enjoyment of an older bottle of red is experiencing the development in the glass and in the bottle or the decanter. So pour a glass straight away and decanting the rest, making sure to continue tasting at regular intervals is best. This way you can see all the development as it happens. 

Below is a little crib sheet, explaining our recommendations!

Ready to drink: Literally crack the seal, pour and guzzle.

30 minutes: Open the bottle, pour half a glass to taste straight away, then leave the bottle for 30 mins.

1 hour: Get your decanter out, pour the wine in there then sit and watch it patiently. 

2 hours: In the best decanter you have gently pour the wine, set aside. Go for a run, cycle or cook something for 2 hours. Or put on Lord Of The Rings, when you’re halfway through, pour a glass and enjoy.