Decanting is a skill that helps many wine experts, sommeliers, and at-home-wine-tasters enjoy the perfect glass of wine.

To help make sure you get the perfect decant every time, we’ve included a list of do’s and don’ts below. This way, you’ll avoid common mistakes and enjoy the perfect expression of your wine. 

Do’s of Decanting Wine

There are a few rules to follow to decant your wine perfectly every time. Below are the do’s of wine decanting that will help you get the perfect decant every time. 

Red wine being poured into a decanter with four glasses to its side.

Decant Young Tannic Red Wines

These wines should almost always be decanted. They have tight tannins and wound up aromas that need some time in your decanter to unveil themselves. 

Decant Reduced White Wines

Some white wines may smell like egg shells or sulfur. These wines have been reduced, which means they lacked exposure to oxygen during fermentation. With just a short 15 to 30 minutes in your decanter, these unsavory aromas will burn off. 

Always Clean Your Decanter

Wine has delicate aromas that can be ruined with even the smallest amount of soap or wine residue. Using a clean decanter is very important, so your wine tastes clean every time. 

Always Follow the Right Decanting Times

Each style of wine has different decanting times. Young and powerful red wines and fortified wines take the longest to decant. Zippy white wines, sparkling wines, and rosés take the shortest amount of time. 

By following the correct decanting times, you’ll have a perfect decant every time. When in doubt, ask the winery, a sommelier, or wine expert for their advice or follow a simple decanting chart.  

Always be Careful with Your Decanter

Decanters are made from glass or crystal and can be breakable. Always store your decanter in a safe spot away from children or pets. 

Keep Your Decanter at the Right Temperature

No matter what wine you’re drinking, it’s important to keep your decanter at that wine’s ideal temperature. If you’re drinking a fresh white wine, chill your decanter with ice cubes or by refrigerating it ahead of time. 

Do Use a Decanter with a Wide Base

Your decanter should have a wide base to allow enough space for aeration to occur. If your decanter is too narrow, your wine may not decant properly. 

Pour Your Wine Slowly

When decanting your wine, it’s important to pour your wine slowly. This gives you enough time to stop sediments from getting into your decanter. 

Taste Your Wine Before Serving

After you’ve decanted your wine, give it a little taste. If it still tastes harsh, consider leaving it in your decanter for longer. Give it another taste after 15 to 30 minutes. 

Don’ts of Decanting Wine

To decant your wine like an expert, there are a few things to avoid. Below are the top decanting don’ts, so you can avoid some common mistakes. 

Man pours red wine in a decanter with other wines next to him.

Don’t Over Decant your Wine

Unless you’re drinking an aged madeira or port, you’ll want to stop decanting your wine after a few hours or less. Wine turns into vinegar after a few weeks and even after a few hours, its flavors and aromas can change for the worse. 

Don’t Over Decant Aged Wines

For aged reds, it’s important to remove any sediment before drinking. However, make sure to enjoy your wine immediately after decanting it. This way, you won’t lose any of your wine’s delicate secondary or tertiary aromas. 

Don’t Shake the Bottle when Decanting

When you decant your wine, it’s important not to shake your wine bottle before decanting. This will cause any sediment to cloud your wine. If this happens, you’ll have to wait another 24 hours to decant your wine. 

Don’t Decant Wines with Tropical Aromas

Wines such as sauvignon blanc have compounds called thiols, which give them fresh tropical aromas that taste like passion fruit and citrus. Decanting these wines will let these delicious aromas vanish, leaving you with a bland tasting wine. 

Don’t Decant Your Wines too Far in Advance

Only decant your wine when you’re ready to serve it. For example, if you’re decanting a white wine, enjoy it immediately after decanting. Time your tasting with your wine’s decanting times. 

Don’t Decant Other Beverages in Your Decanter

Decanting spirits, liqueurs, or other beverages like juices in your wine decanter is a big mistake. Any faint aromas left on your decanter can throw your wine’s natural aromas off. 

Don’t Buy a Decanter that’s not Glass or Crystal

One purpose of decanting your wine is to remove sediment. It’s important to be able to see any sediment that’s inside your decanter, so you know if you removed your sediment properly. 

Decanters that are colored or made with non-clear materials will obstruct your view of your wine. Make sure to only buy decanters that are made with high-quality glass or crystal. 

How Decanting Wine Works

Decanting wine is an easy and effective way to open up your wine and let it express its hidden aromas or get rid of bad ones. It’s also a great way to remove sediment that builds up in old red wines. 

Decanter and red wine

Sediment Removal

As red wine ages, organic particles and yeast cells leftover from fermentation combine with tannins, forming crystals of sediment. These settle at the bottom of the bottle.

If you were to agitate and pour an aged bottle of red wine over 15 years old directly into your glass, you would notice a cloud of sediment. This sediment is harmless, but it can taste unpleasant. 

Decanting is an easy way to remove these sediments from the bottle. This way, you’ll have a clear wine every time. 

Aerating your Wine

Another purpose of decanting is to aerate your wine. This is when you allow your wine to interact with the air. 

Since over 80% of what we taste in wine comes from its aroma, it’s important to help these aromas express themselves. Sometimes, when a wine has been in the bottle too long, these pleasant aromas can feel constricted. 

Decanting increases your wine’s exposure to the air by letting it rest at the wide base of your decanter. This lets the strong vapors caused by alcohol and tannin to evaporate, leaving the pleasant aromas behind.

Sometimes, white wines and rosé can lack oxygen during fermentation. When this happens, it’s called being reduced. 

Reduced wines can smell like burnt matches or even egg shells. Decanting lets these off-putting aromas evaporate, leaving behind a delicious wine for you to enjoy. 

Decanting can be Great for Your Wine

Some wines taste amazing after a little time in your decanter. This trusted method is both easy and effective. 

Man pouring red wine into a decanter

For many wine lovers, having a decanter on hand is a great idea. No matter if you drink aged reds or white wines, chances are, your wine will benefit from decanting. 

Every wine drinker should be enjoying the best expression of their wine. By following these simple do’s and don’ts, you’ll decant your wine like an expert and always have something delicious in your glass.