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Decanting wine – when and why?

Many people ask “why must I decant a wine?”, “when must I decant a wine?” and “how must I decant a wine”?

Decanting is probably one of the most intimidating aspects of wine culture for many wine novices. “Why can’t I just pull the cork (or twist the cap) and enjoy my bottle?” “Why must I invest in this costly decanter which looks like it could break easily and is difficult to clean?”

Well, the simple answer is that decanting serves two main purposes. Firstly, to separate the wine from any sediment that might have settled in the bottle over time – this is particularly the case in unfiltered wines, but not exclusively. The second reason, in some cases, is to expose the wine to more oxygen, in order to stimulate the release of flavours and aromas otherwise locked up in the vacuum of the bottle.

One does not need to invest in a very expensive decanter to decant wine successfully. Any large, clean container (preferably glass and preferably twice the volume of the bottle you are decanting) will do the job. But there are beautiful, elegant decanters available – as well as special brushes to clean them with! (Do visit our Farm Shop)

If you are pouring an older wine, for example 1993 La Motte Millennium, slowly insert your corkscrew and gently pull the cork, trying not to break the cork or make any crumbly pieces land in the wine.

Wipe the neck and mouth of the bottle and then slowly pour the wine into the decanter, holding it at an angle. Keep an eye on the neck of the bottle; you will see the sediment collecting there.

Simply stop pouring when you see the sediment is about to leave the bottle. Unfortunately you might lose about 30 ml of wine, but at least you won’t have to drink the grainy, sandy sediment.

If you are drinking a younger wine, for example the 2013 La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon or 2012 La Motte Syrah, you might find that, by decanting the wine an hour or two before drinking it, the tannins of the wine are softened, making the wine smoother and more enjoyable.

Always remember to serve the empty bottle with the decanted wine so that your friends and family can see the beautiful label and know how special the wines are that you are sharing with them!


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