I was looking through the forums and I noticed some people mentioning opening their wines the night before consuming? I would think this would be too much time and it'd just ruin the wine?

and...
I don't have a decanter but I'm wondering what you guys thought about its use... does it really make that much of a difference?

THANKS!
Original Post
With a very young, tannic wine, opening a bottle the night before (and even pouring a little so the level is below the neck) can make an overly tannic wine more approachable. It can smoothen out some of the tannic roughness that may conceal other aspects of a wine that is said to be too young to drink. Some may say that the oxidation occurring may even simulate the effects of age on a wine, but it is in no way a substitute for what only time will do.

I am currently drinking an 05 Bordeaux that I opened last night, and it is much better today, with ~20 hrs of time being open.

As far as a decanter goes, its normally used to remove sediment from an old bottle, but it can also be used to increase the amount of wine that touches the air, with similar effects to leaving a bottle open over night, but speeding the process up even more.
wow... 20 hours?

did you just leave it with open top on your kitchen counter for 20 hours?

THANKS for the reply... i'm always learning something new on this forum
quote:
I don't have a decanter but I'm wondering what you guys thought about its use... does it really make that much of a difference?

You don't have to go out and spend a lot of money on a great crystal decanter - in a pinch I have used the glass coffeepot or any other kind of pitcher, preferably glass since it can be cleaned well. If you want to decant a wine to remove sediment or to aerate, you just need something big enough to hold the whole bottle. But as JM said, there are a few reasons to decant.

As far as a 20 hour decant, I've never intentionally opened a bottle to do that but many people do. If I don't know the wine, I usually prefer to pop and pour so I can see for myself. If I know for sure that it's not ready, I try to open something else instead. As JM said, decanting is no substitute for what only time will do.
Ms123d,

Yes, agree with the great advice above. Long decants are fine for many wines. On occasion, I'll let a young wine go in a decanter for a full 48 hours and taste it periodically, to see how it progresses. There's no problem with doing that. Just make sure it's not in the sunlight, and doesn't get hot. Also, you might pop a bit of netting on top during warmer months, as fruit flies may come to investigate. Eek
A cheap experiment:

Go buy two bottles of 2005 Chateau Gravat (Bordeaux) that is around $11.

Open both bottles and taste. Record notes.
Then, decant one bottle and place decanter in cellar (or other temperature controlled environment).

Place bottle 2 in same area, but do not decant.

Revisit: 12 hours later, 24 hours later, 36 hours later, 48 hours later.

The wine goes from OK value and quite rough, to a very enjoyable bottle overnight. It shows best at around 24 hours.

Outstanding way to get a good bottle of wine, that is young and cheap, to show signs of maturity and balance...in 24 hours!
Some people decant vintage port a couple of days prior to drinking.

For a decanter, you can go to any Goodwill store and find old glass "decanters," many of which were used for crappy jug-quality wine for $1 and they work just fine.
For a young wine:
48 to 72 hours beforehand: Pour out a glass and drink it!
Then, vacu pump out the air with special vacu stoppers.
Put it in the fridge (slows down any oxidation)
The wine gets aired when you pour ut the first glass to encourage the wine to open out. But needs slow aeration which is thepoint of putting it in the fridge.
I view a decanter as essential equipment (after a decent corkscrew that is), for all of the reasons that the posters above have mentioned. You don't need an expensive one, either.

The point of decanting is to increase the surface area of the wine that is exposed to air. This allows the volatile compounds in the wine to interact and simulates (to some minor degree) what would happen to the wine with aging in the bottle (though that takes much longer and is a more complex chemical process, but the general idea is the same).

One thing to note: I've heard (and it's also my experience) that popping the cork on a full bottle really doesn't help to get let a wine "breathe" - because the surface area exposed to air is just too small. Decanting works much better, in my experience.

Hope this helps!
I've found long term (12-24) hour decanting to give great results on young Bordeaux (3-5 years old), especially cheap ones!

For young (3-5 year) Southern Rhones, I've found they tend to peak around 3-4 hours.

It really depends on the wine, but I wouldn't be without my decanter for young reds.

By the way, during summer I keep the decanter in the cooler- still gets oxygen, but doesn't warm the wine.
Ms 123rd-
I have seen decanters in the $7-10 range in discount stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls (don't know if there are any in your area).
They are not "high end" but they serve the purpose well, don't break the bank and are a bit nicer to look at than the thrift shop jug also suggested.
I was out with dinner last week with a group of friends. We all love wine amd so we spent a bit of time choosing vintage date and vintner.
Here is the issue that I would like the group to comment on -
There was universal agreement that the wine needed to breathe. A friend and I felt that at least twenty minutes (perhaps more) was needed for the wine to settle down. Our waiter, obviously anxious to empty the bottle and have us open a second bottle, grabbed one of the filled glasses on the table and began to swirl the wine vigorously. He kept at this for what seemed for several minutes (it was probably less, but time seemed to stand still). He then presented the wine to my friend and viola! it was much better.
The issue was this - the after-taste was markedly different than that experienced by the more patient guests. My feeling is that the wine was artificially aerated and "bruised" by the vigorous aeration techniques.
The wine, by the way was a 2004 Torbreck Shiraz and it truly popped after settling in my glass for 30 minutes - after 45, it was sensational!
I was wondering what the group felt about the "forced aeration" technique foisted upon our group by the restaurant. I was shocked that he did this. This is a restaurant that specializes in wines and gas wonderful food to match. I did not say anything to the manager/owner, but I am still amazed at this stunt.
quote:
There was universal agreement that the wine needed to breathe. A friend and I felt that at least twenty minutes (perhaps more) was needed for the wine to settle down. Our waiter, obviously anxious to empty the bottle and have us open a second bottle, grabbed one of the filled glasses on the table and began to swirl the wine vigorously. He kept at this for what seemed for several minutes (it was probably less, but time seemed to stand still). He then presented the wine to my friend and viola! it was much better.


As some of the posters noted above, there are several reasons to decant. In the case of vintage Ports, you want to remove all the sediment. Not much other wine has so much sediment but that's not the only reason to decant. You decant a young wine to aerate it. You decant other wines so that they can blow off the bottle funk.

So what happened with your wine? The bottle is sealed. There is limited, ideally no, oxygen. So the reactions in the bottle are reductive in nature. You can measure them as a electric charges actually - the reduction/oxidative or redox potential. Some people say that the corks let a small amount of air/oxygen into the wine. Of course they never know exactly how much and it's basically a mistake - the best corks seal the wine so you end up with reductive reactions, but that's fodder for a different thread.

The wine contains sulfur compounds naturally plus sulfur is also added to prevent oxidation, but sulfur can make stinky compounds. So when you open the bottle, you smell the "funk" which is most likely some sulfur based compound. This "blows off" in time. Actually what happens is that they react with the oxygen in the air and form different compounds that are still in the wine but you can't detect them as readily.

Anyhow, what happens when one does a "hard decant" or aerates the wine as the person did in your case, swirling it vigorously, is that some air, and consequently oxygen, is incorporated and the sulfur compounds react with it and the wine seems friendlier and smoother. It's not the same thing as aging, but it works in a pinch when you opened young wine.

That is distinguished from swirling in your glass to disturb the wine and to release some of the volatile compounds so you can smell them. In that case, crazy swirling is counterproductive. But if you have a young wine and you incorporate air, it can seem "smoother".

It's why some people shake the hell out of a bottle. Pour off some wine, put the cork back in or use your thumb, and shake the bottle up. It's what your waiter did, only more drastic.

Old bottles are different. I would be unhappy if the waiter did that to an older bottle at the table. Those bottles have had no oxygen for a long time and it's almost like waking them up when they get some air. But sometimes you only have a brief drinking window before they start to deteriorate, depending of course on the wine and the year.

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