What does it mean when a drink is decanted?

Answered by Robert Golston

Decanting is a process that involves slowly transferring a liquid from its original container into a different vessel. This technique is commonly associated with , where the wine is poured from its bottle into a decanter or jug. However, decanting can also be done with other types of drinks, such as or even beverages.

When a drink is decanted, it serves several purposes. One of the main reasons for decanting is to separate the liquid from any sediment or residue that may have formed over time. Sediment can occur in certain wines, especially those that have been aged for a significant period. By carefully pouring the wine into a decanter, the sediment can be left behind in the original bottle, ensuring a cleaner and clearer pour.

Decanting also allows the drink to come into contact with oxygen, which can have a positive effect on its flavor and aroma. This process is particularly beneficial for young, bold wines that may benefit from aeration to soften their tannins and enhance their aromas. By gently swirling the liquid in the decanter, the wine is exposed to more oxygen, allowing it to open up and develop its full potential.

Furthermore, decanting can also serve as a visual presentation of the drink. Transferring a to a beautifully crafted decanter can elevate the overall drinking experience, especially when entertaining guests or celebrating special occasions. It adds an element of elegance and sophistication to the serving process.

In my personal experience as a sommelier, decanting wine has been a crucial step in enhancing the overall enjoyment of the drink. I have witnessed how the act of decanting can transform a closed-off, tight wine into a vibrant and expressive one. The aromas become more pronounced, the flavors more balanced, and the overall drinking experience more pleasurable.

When decanting a drink, it is important to do so slowly and carefully, especially when dealing with older wines that are more delicate. Pouring too vigorously can disturb the sediment, defeating the purpose of decanting. It is also recommended to let the drink rest in the decanter for a short period, allowing it to fully integrate with the oxygen before serving.

To summarize, decanting a drink involves transferring it from its original container to a different vessel, typically a decanter. This process serves to separate sediment, expose the liquid to oxygen, and enhance the overall presentation and enjoyment of the drink. Whether it's a fine wine, a premium spirit, or even a non-alcoholic beverage, decanting can elevate the drinking experience to new heights.