Decanting is done for three reasons.
Firstly, it is a great way to aerate your wine (as mentioned in a previous post). Secondly it helps to remove any sediment in the wine. Thirdly, it’s an excuse to own something that looks like it came straight out of Dowton Abbey. Ok so the third reason isn’t really a reason.
What is sediment?
If you cast your mind back to silt deposits in rivers from geography class, then this is sort of related.
Sediment is the solid matter you occasionally find in older wines, the grainy residue you get at the bottom of the bottle. It’s perfectly normal for it to be there as a byproduct the production process. However, it doesn’t taste very nice and having stuff floating in your drink can be off putting!
It’s less common in wine than it used to be. These days wine goes through extensive filtration and a process known as fining.
Fining is done by passing egg whites or something equally odd through the wine to collect solid matter.
So will I actually have any sediment in my wine?
Potentially yes. If your wine has been made to age in the bottle and is ten or more years old it will drop sediment.
Fortunately removing it is pretty easy and this is where decanting is important.
How do I decant my wine?
First, preparation. It’s usual to store wine horizontally. Stand it upright for 24 hours to allow any sediment to settle. You might get away with doing this in the morning if you plan on drinking it that evening.
If you didn’t store it horizontally or your wine is less than ten years old you can skip that bit.
Decanting itself is straightforward. You need your wine, a suitable container, and a light source.
Remove the foil and anything obstructing your view of the neck of the bottle and uncork your wine.
Next, find somewhere to stand next to a light source so you can backlight the neck of the bottle whilst pouring. This will help you see the sediment as it comes into the neck and allow you to stop pouring just in time.
Hold the container in one hand and the bottle in the other and start to slowly pour. The objective is to keep as much sediment in the bottom of the bottle as you can. If you take it slow and steady you shouldn’t stir it up too much. Use the light to help you see the sediment. Keep an eye on it.
When you stop you should have less than half a glass of wine with sediment in. This isn’t waste though as it can make a delicious addition to homemade gravy!
Do you have a special technique for removing sediment? If so comment or get in touch and let us know what it is.