Decanting separates sediment from liquid. Decanting is first and foremost about separating wine from the sediments that settle at the bottom of the bottle. Red wines contain the most sediment, especially older wines and vintage ports, while young white wines contain the least. Sediment is not harmful, but tastes unpleasant.
Decanting enhances flavor through aeration. Aeration is the process of introducing oxygen to a liquid. This is also called allowing a wine to “breathe.” Aeration enhances a wine’s flavor by softening the tannins and releasing gases that have developed in the absence of oxygen. Decanting wine allows the flavors and aromas that were dormant while bottled to expand and breathe.
Decanting saves wine in the event of a broken cork. Occasionally, a cork may break, dispersing pieces of solid matter you don’t want in your wine glasses. While pouring, the cork will gather near the neck of the bottle as you decant into another vessel (sediment does the same). If the cork disintegrates, use a strainer while decanting to filter out the smaller bits.
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