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A Practical Guide to Decanting

Fundamentally, decanting a bottle of wine can serve one of two purposes: to separate a library wine from any sediment that has formed over time or to aerate a wine to allow its aromas and flavors to become more vibrant upon serving.  As you slowly pour your Stonestreet wine from the bottle into a decanter it is able to rapidly take in outside oxygen releasing the desirable aromas and flavors that, when unlocked, allow the wine to express its true characteristics, highlighting the unique qualities derived from our mountain estate vineyards.

How to Properly Decant Wine
Library wines and new release wines alike can benefit from decanting.  Prior to decanting a library wine, allow the bottle to sit upright for at least 24 hours before serving, this will allow any sediment to settle at the bottom of the bottle.  To decant, pour the wine slowly and steadily into your decanter without stopping.  You want to avoid a large “splash” as you transfer the wine into your decanter – the larger the “splash”, the more rapid the aeration.  This can be a benefit to younger wines but harmful for a more delicate, older vintage.  As you get to the bottom half of the bottle, pour even more slowly.  Stop as soon as you see the sediment reach the neck of the bottle and discard the remaining ounce or two of wine along with the sediment.  For the best results, hold a light under the neck of the bottle while decanting – this will allow you to more clearly see any build-up of sediment around the shoulder and neck of the bottle. 

For younger wines, decanting is about aeration in order to bring out the aromas and flavors. Sediment is rarely an issue in these wines so decanting can be as stress-free as holding the decanter at an angle and pouring in the wine.  Note, even younger wines, especially heavy bodied reds and some white wines can have a small amount of sediment, particularly when the wine is unfiltered.  When in doubt, it is always better to err on the side of caution and decant the wine before serving for optimal enjoyment!

Selecting a Decanter
Decanters come in every shape and size but there are a few things to keep in mind when selecting the right decanter for the wine you plan to serve.  For younger wines that need the opportunity to breathe, look for a decanter that offers greater surface area for better aeration. Typically, a standard decanter with a wider neck and wide base will be ideal for most full-bodied red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Syrah, as this style allows for optimal aeration. Lighter-bodied red wines and white wines will do better in a decanter with a smaller base. Most library wines do not need the same aeration as their younger counterparts; a simple thin-necked decanter will work best for these wines. Note that although decanters made from cut, etched or painted glass may be attractive, their decorations may obstruct your view of the wine while decanting and tend to be more difficult to clean – simple is usually better.

Decanting White Wines
With the release of our much anticipated 2014 Chardonnays, our tasting room team has been posed with the question, “Is decanting only for reds, or can we decant our white wines as well?” The answer is, yes!  A white wine – especially Chardonnay – can benefit greatly from decanting, just as much as a red wine

Like red wines, white wines will benefit from the same aeration process, allowing the wine to express all of the aromas and flavors the winemaker intended. For Stonestreet, our 2014 Chardonnays use a specialized cork that will allow your wine to age gracefully for 8 to 10 years but when first opened the wine my taste “tight.” Decant the wine and allow it to open up and you will find a uniquely expressive Chardonnay. 

Decanting will also help an over-chilled white wine gradually increase in temperature. Typically, Chardonnay served too cold will showcase higher perceived acidity and a muted fruit expression, whereas, a room temperature or warmer Chardonnay will allow the wine to convey its full breadth of aromas and flavors. The ideal temperature for serving Chardonnay is approximately 48-50 degrees. Pouring your Chardonnay from the cold bottle into a room temperature decanter will allow the wine to gradually travel into that temperature sweet spot, so you can enjoy your Stonestreet Chardonnays at their very best!

For more tips on how best to serve your Stonestreet wine collection, contact our team at 707-857-1524 or wineclub@stonestreetwines.com.

 

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