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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Purpose of Decanting Bordeaux

There are three primary functional reasons for decanting a wine. First, is to remove any sediments from a bottle of wine that may be un-fined and unfiltered and over time has even thrown more sediments to the bottom of the bottle. Second, is to allow certain hefty or young wines to breath and for oxygen to caress the wine and release it's aromatic profile and soften it's texture. Finally, the third purpose is more of an aesthetic appeal which is the nostalgia and ceremony. Yes, this may seem like a bit of a facade, but it's important not to downplay the atmosphere and the special feelings we get when treating wine with the respect and reverence it deserves.



Now, why is Bordeaux particularly in need of a decanter. Well, generally speaking Bordeaux is pretty hearty wine. It's five permitted varieties are grapes that impart big and bold phenols or tannins. They are also wines with a sharp acid profile. Bordeaux ages with grace and over time develops nuance and additional aroma and flavor profiles. When consumed young, Bordeaux need time to be exposed to a broad surface area of oxygen. This helps to loosen the tightly wound wine and unlock it's true character that is often a bit masked by the flavors imparted by aging in new French oak barrels. Older Bordeaux at times needs to be decanted to remove the sediments, however it becomes a bit more fragile and it's vital to not over-expose the wine to air when it has considerable age. A funnel may be needed to place the delicate wine back into the bottle after removing the sediments.

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