This myth is up first because it’s been hanging around for a long time – and it results in wine lovers missing out on a lot from their favourite bottles. To put it in an overly simplified way, any wine that benefits from ageing should be decanted.
Decanting has two benefits: decant older wines to remove sediment and gently let oxygen into the wine, or decant younger wines to drastically aerate it and essentially speed up the ageing process. Technically speaking, exposure to oxygen burns off carbon dioxide, which is the wine’s main preservation element. This allows the bouquet to develop faster, giving you the impression the wine is maturing.
Any complex wine, created by a winemaker to spend many years in the bottle before consumption, will show more aromatic expression and, ultimately, flavour, if decanted. This includes red wines, white wines that show body and integrity in ageing such as chardonnay or semillon, and even vintage champagnes.
So what doesn’t need decanting? Fresh, luscious, and low tannin wines that are not overly complex but are produced with the pure intention of being enjoyed soon after they’ve been released. These wines are typically fruit-forward, bright, juicy, and are absolutely delicious but won’t taste very different a year or two from now than they do today.
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