When you have a special wine that needs decanting and you have guests coming over for a party or tasting, it may be time to try double decanting. This simple and useful trick allows you to turn a tight, newly opened bottle of wine into a sediment-free and properly aerated one. 

delicious high quality wine still life

Double decanting may sound like a complicated thing only a professional sommelier would know how to do, but we can assure you it’s not. It’s actually quite simple and should be added to your book of wine tasting tricks. 

To help you know when and how to double decant or decide if it’s a good idea for your wine, we’ve included a few tips below. Read on to learn more about double decanting, when to do it, which wines benefit from it the most, and more. 

What Does Double Decanting Mean? 

Double Decanting is a fancy way of saying you pour your wine twice. There are many reasons to do this and it can be very helpful in improving some wines. 

man pouring wine carafe
man pouring wine carafe

First, you carefully pour your wine into your decanter, removing sediments and letting it aerate until it’s at its peak expression. Then, you pour it back into the bottle as a freshly decanted wine, ready to enjoy. 

When you decant your wine, you’re letting its dormant aromas wake up from their slumber. This also lets the harsh aromas known as volatile compounds evaporate, leaving you with a better smelling and tasting wine. 

Another purpose is to remove sediment that builds up in the bottle in some wines. These gritty bits of crystalized plant material and tannins could ruin a tasting experience if you don’t remove them. 

Double decanting is a great way to improve your wine by aerating it twice and removing sediment before returning it to the bottle. This way, your wine will be decanted and clean and ready to serve at dinners, tastings, or events. 

When Should I Double Decant?

You may wonder when is the perfect time to break out your double decanting technique. First off, double decanting isn’t something you need to do with every wine you open. 

Light-bodied white wines with lots of citrus and tropical aromas, most sparkling wine, and low-bodied and delicate reds may not benefit much from double decanting. 

wiping wine bottle

However, for big, bold, and aged reds like Bordeaux Blends, Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, or Australian Shiraz, double decanting could be your best friend. These heavy hitting wines benefit from the extra aeration and swirling action double decanting gives. 

There are other situations where double decanting could be a good idea. Below are a few other reasons to double decant your wine. 

Your Wine Tastes Closed Off

If you have a special bottle that still feels shy, it may benefit from double decanting. This can give the extra aeration needed to help coax out the wine’s tight flavors and aromas. 

You Want to Remove Sediment 

If you’re pouring a really old bottle of red wine that has a lot of sediment build up, then double decanting is very useful. Not only will you remove the sediment from the wine, but it gives you the time to clean the sediment out of the original bottle, letting you reuse it.

Planning a Special Event? 

sommelier pouring wine decanter while standing near wine shelf

If you’re planning a tasting, wine party, or just having guests over, double decanting lets you ensure that each pour is smooth and satisfying. Plus, having your decanted wine in its original bottle avoids any confusion so your guests know what they’re being served. 

Want to learn more? Read our Comprehensive Guide to Wine Decanting.

Can White Wines Benefit from Double Decanting?

If you have a bottle of white wine, you’ll probably want to avoid double decanting. It won’t ruin your wine, but there’s really no purpose. 

White wines rarely have sediment buildup and their aromas usually open up immediately after you open them. This means that they won’t benefit from the extra aeration that double decanting provides. 

There are some white wines, however, such as sauvignon blanc, riesling, and gewürztraminer that contain thiols, which give them a citrusy or tropical quality. These compounds evaporate quickly, so any decanting will make the wine taste dull. 

Some white wines, such as fuller bodied Rhône blends or even young white Burgundy, may taste even better after a short double decant. This is because their complex aromas are sometimes shut down in the bottle and need a little extra aeration to open up into their true selves. 

Tools You’ll Need to Double Decant

First, you’ll need a decanter and your usual wine accessories, like a corkscrew. If you’re double decanting an old bottle of wine, then you may need a two-pronged wine opener commonly known as a butler’s friend. 

You’ll also need a metal or glass funnel. You use this when you pour your decanted wine back into the bottle. 

How to Double Decant

Double decanting might sound intimidating, but it’s quite easy. This simple extra step will do wonders for some of your boldest wines and leave you with minimal cleanup. 

Below are easy to follow steps to double decant your wine perfectly every time. All you’ll need are a few wine-drinking essentials, a funnel, and your favorite decanter. 

Expose the Cork

First, cut along the base of your wine capsule, the protective skin of metal or plastic around the neck of your wine bottle. Pull it off to expose the cork. 

Open Your Wine

opening bottle wine
opening bottle wine

Next, open your wine using your corkscrew or your butler’s friend wine opener. If you’re using a butler’s friend, insert the long prod in between the cork and the bottleneck. Push it to the base of the opener and then insert the smaller prod. Gently wiggle the opener and pull until the cork slides out. 

Pour Your Wine Into Your Decanter

Slowly start pouring your wine down the side of your decanter. When the bottle is around a quarter full, pour even slower. Once you see pieces of sediment collect around the bottle’s neck, stop pouring, and throw the last bit of wine and sediment away. 

Aerate Your Wine

Now, let your wine sit in the decanter for as long as you need. For younger, full-bodied, and more tannic reds, you can do this for up to two hours. You can decant ports and other fortified wines for even longer. 

Clean Your Bottle

After you’ve poured out your wine into the decanter, it’s time to clean your bottle. Use clean lukewarm water to rinse any sediment out of your bottle and let it air dry completely. 

Place Your Funnel Over the Bottle

Once you’ve properly decanted your wine, place your funnel over the empty and clean wine bottle. Make sure there’s no water left in it and it’s fully dry. 

Pour Your Decanted Wine Back in the Bottle

Start pouring your decanted wine back into your bottle slowly. When you’re finished, you now have a perfect double decanted wine to enjoy or serve to your guests. 

You can repeat this step as often as you need, depending on how many bottles you have to decant. 

The Benefits of Double Decanting Wine

Double decanting is a great way to aerate your wine and get the sediments out. It’s also perfect for serving multiple bottles of wine at dinner parties and tastings without having to serve wine from the decanter. 

With this little extra step, you’ll add another extra element to your wine drinking experience. Not only will the wine taste better for you and your guests, you’ll also be serving it in its original bottle, making it much more informative and enjoyable.