All About Decanting Wine! A Practical Guide

Decanting? It sounds sooo complicated! It’s probably not even necessary, right? Wrong! Decanting wine is a simple process though it can be time-consuming depending on the type of wine. If you’re a wine enthusiast, knowing how to decant wine is a must. After all, if you’ve invested in a good bottle of wine or have aged wine, then you want to experience as much as it has to offer.

In this guide, I will walk you through everything you need to know about decanting wine. From what it is, the purpose, when to do it, how long, and how to do it properly.

What is Decanting?

Decanting is the process of pouring wine from the bottle into a separate container. That container is usually a decanter. Depending on the wine, this process can take anywhere from five minutes to two hours! The wine can then be served from the decanter or poured back into the wine bottle.

What is the Purpose?

Now, not all wines need to be decanted. Most white wine, for instance, does not typically need to be decanted though some higher-end wines that have been aged can benefit. Decanting wine helps oxygenate the wine, allowing it to breathe, therefore, enhancing the flavors and aroma. Decanting also helps to remove any sediment (normal for bottle aging) that has collected. Additionally, decanting simply stated, makes your wine look nicer! Removing the tannin deposits keep your wine from looking cloudy.

How to Properly Decant Wine.

Decanting wine is a relatively simple process. Light-bodied red wines such as Pinot Noir should be decanted for 20-30 minutes while 30 to 60 minutes is recommended for medium-bodied red wines like Merlot. Full-bodied red wines like Petit Sirah or those that have been aged (under 20 years) should be decanted for 60+ minutes. Vintage wine, as in those that are over 20 years old, should be decanted immediately prior to serving.

So, the main technique is to first allow the bottle of wine to sit for a good 24 hours. This ensures even the finest particles have settled down to the bottom. Next, pour the wine slow and steady from the bottle into the decanter. Go even slower as you get closer to the bottom. If you’re meticulous, hold a light under the neck of the bottle so you can see any sediment that tries to escape. Once you see sediment start to come up to the bottleneck or the wine looks cloudy, stop there. When you’re finished, perform a taste test to check if the tannins have smoothed out. Double decant if necessary.


While any clean and clear jar can technically be used as a decanter, if your a wine enthusiast investing in a proper decanter has it’s benefits. Also, a good decanter doesn’t have to be expensive, you shouldn’t have to spend more than $20-$30. Check out the recommended decanters below:

  • Riedel Merlot Decanter, 34.5 ozs – $25
  • JoyJolt Lancia Wine Decanter – $29.95
  • Merge 50-Ounce Wine Carafe with Coaster – $24.95
  • Bella Vino Wine Decanter – $24.96

Guys, as you can see, decanting isn’t as mysterious or hard as the term initially sounds. Knowing the basics of wine how it’s made, the different tasting techniques and subtle differences in flavors and aromas are a great start. After all, wine is not just any ole’ beverage, it’s a grand affair. Enjoy honing your skills, cheers!

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