• Alexander Smith

When to use a wine decanter


This is one of the most asked questions on this blog. I have addressed the importance of decanting wine in a previous post. In this post though, I wanted to look at when to use a decanter and more importantly how long should you decant the wine for. I should first state that the below is a recommendation based on my preferences and how I would prepare wine at a tasting event.


Firstly, not all wines need to be decanted. To better understand this concept I recommend reading the importance of decanting wine.


Can white wine be decanted?


Yes! even though we only ever talking about decanting red wine, some young white Burgundy/Chablis from high-end producers are often decanted when under 10 years of age.


Should old wines be decanted?


This can vary, but when reaching 20 years of age, there are very few wines that need a long decant, and in fact, decanting old wines can actually impact the structure and fruit quality.


How long should I decant a red wine for?


Depending on the age, the below will give you a good estimation, in terms of decanting times:


Bordeaux red:

Below 5 years:

- High-end producer - 8 hours

- Med-range producer - 4 hours

5-10 years

- High-end producer - 5 hours

- Med-range producer - 2 hours

10-20 years

- High-end producer - 1 hour, if anything


Burgundy red:

Below 5 years:

- High-end producer - 3 hours

- Med-range producer - 1 hours

5-10 years

- High-end producer - 2 hours


Piemonte red:

Below 5 years:

- High-end producer - 1-2 hours

- Med-range producer - 1-2 hours

5-10 years

- Mid-range/High-end producer - 2 hours

- Med-range producer - 2 hours

10-20 years

- High-end producer - 3-5 hours


Napa red:

Below 5 years:

- High-end producer - 4 hours

- Med-range producer - 2 hours

5-10 years

- High-end producer - 2 hours

- Med-range producer - 1 hour


As always, I base the above on my experience, however if someone disagress please let me know :)


Which wine decanter is best?

So in terms of a decanter which is my favorite? The Riedel Cabernet Decanter is my go-to decanter, it works well, is easy to clean, looks good and most importantly helps to open up wine at a gradual pace. This is different from the one in the picture above, which is an Amarone decanter, which I prefer less.

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