At our Spring Mountain winery, Sherwin Family Vineyards, we see decanting as an important step of the serving process. Contrary to popular belief, serving fine wine is a little more complicated than simply opening a bottle and pouring it. Decanting wine brings out the full flavor of the wine and allows any sediments to settle so that they are not part of the pour.

Why is Decanting Important?

Decanting wine before serving is always a good idea. Even white wines benefit from the process, which typically produces a richer flavor. There are a couple of excellent reasons why we decant wines at Sherwin Family Vineyards, a Spring Mountain Winery:
  • Oxygenation - Giving air molecules a chance to mix with the wine allows it to develop a bouquet and fuller body. If you have ever opened a bottle of wine and it seemed a little flat or less flavorful than expected, you have experienced one of the primary reasons for decanting.
  • Sediment - Red wines are prone to sediment buildup as they age. This is the result of natural tannin bonding to the pigment, and becomes more pronounced in wines older than 5 years but may still be present in younger, heavier red wines. Because of the tinting in wine bottles, inspecting the bottle before opening may not reveal sediments in the bottle.

How to Decant Wine

On our St. Helena estate, the decanting process begins when a wine is selected for serving. Bottles are placed upright and allowed to stand for 24 hours so that any sediments in the bottle will settle out of the wine. It is important to change the position of the bottle slowly to avoid mixing the sediments with the wine. After the wine has had an opportunity to settle, you are ready for decanting. Open the bottle in a smooth motion. Using a flashlight or candle as a backlight, slowly pour the wine into your decanter. As you near the bottom of the bottle, you will notice a few dark pieces of sediment in the flow. Stop pouring and discard the remaining fluid in the bottle.

How Long Should Wine Be Decanted?

The time between decanting and serving depends on the wine being served. Heavy wines profit more from longer decanting periods, but lighter wines are more fragile. Because extended decanting may cause the flavor of these light wines to fade, the process should begin no more than 30 minutes before serving or serve directly from the bottle. Longer periods are more appropriate for dark wines, especially older vintages. When pouring from the bottle, keep a firm, steady hand. Vibrations or sudden movement will cause the sediments to shift and may affect the flavor of the wine. We decant many of the wines we serve at Sherwin Family Vineyards, and we believe you will discover that decanting works well for you as well. Sherwin Family Vineyards proudly produces award-winning wines including our estate cabernet sauvignon. We are also the only producer of the Patriotic Pour. Come relax on our vineyard terrace and sample our wines on your next visit. To schedule a tasting please contact us today.