In everyone's imagination, true wine lovers leave a wine opened, putting it in a carafe. While this may seem obvious to the most experienced, the reason for such a process may escape you. Let's then remember why it is necessary to decant a wine before serving it , and how to go about it.
Oenological glossary: opening, aerating or decanting a wine
If you look in a regular dictionary, you probably won't find the verb carafer. It is indeed a specific oenological term which has finally entered common parlance, even among the uninitiated.
If we stick to a precise definition, decanting means putting a wine in a wine carafe . This carafe then has a specific shape which allows optimal aeration of the wine.
Among the synonyms of the verb “carafer”, we easily talk about aerating the wine , opening the wine , or even oxygenating the wine .
In summary, decanting a wine consists of placing it in a container with a particular shape, so as to put the wine in contact with the air, so that its aromas are fully expressed.
Open wine or closed wine: what are we talking about?
Logically, if wine lovers are recommended to open the wine, this assumes that it is then closed. It is indeed an oenological expression that we use in the world of wine. A closed wine thus refers to a wine whose aromas are not developed, and which are therefore not expressed optimally.
When tasting, closed wines can be recognized by their neutral taste and flat aromas. The wines then reveal no character, and remain rather bland.
Good to know: the wine is not necessarily closed, and this phenomenon occurs especially with wines that have just been bottled. We then say that the wine enters a phase of discretion . You then have to wait a few weeks before it opens. So, depending on the age of the wine, it is not always necessary to decan it.
What wines should be decanted?
If a wine is not necessarily closed on itself, this means that decanting is not an obligation . But how do you know if a wine should be decanted?
To guide you, know that all wines can be decanted, whatever their color (white wine, red wine and rosé wine). It will then suffice to adapt the aeration time to the wine . Generally speaking, the more concentrated and tannic the wines are, the longer the aeration time required.
Beyond these criteria, you must also take into account the age of the wine to know if it needs to be decanted. As we said, a young wine goes through a closing phase, and aeration can be a real boost to the release of its aromas .
On the other hand, it is important to know that a lost aroma never returns. It is therefore not recommended to decant old vintages , which can deteriorate very quickly in contact with air. It is better not to take the risk of irreversible oxygenation on these more fragile wines.
For other wines, if in doubt, it is advisable to aerate the wine in a glass to analyze its evolution. If the aromas are gradually revealed, then you can decant the rest of the bottle; a little aeration will do it a lot of good. Otherwise, your wine simply has neutral aromas.
How to open a closed wine?
If you have the unpleasant surprise of discovering a closed wine when you open the bottle, this does not mean that it does not have character and aromas. You just have to help it reveal itself.
To do this, aerating the wine consists of placing the wine in contact with air for a certain time. This will then allow it to develop its nose and its aromas in the mouth. The aeration of a wine is then done in different ways:
- Uncork the bottle in advance , at least a few hours before tasting. This simple technique limits the aeration surface, and thus prevents the wine from oxidizing or deteriorating. If progressive oxygenation can be interesting, it may also not be enough depending on the wine;
- Swirl the wine glass . This aeration method is mainly used during a technical tasting, to assess the degree of closure of the wine. It is rather well suited to rosé wines and white wines;
- Decanting wine is the most widespread and effective technique. Particularly recommended for red wines, the use of wine carafes optimizes wine and oxygen contact, for rapid aeration;
- Place an aerator cap on the bottle. This method, very popular with professionals, is an innovative process which allows the aeration of the wine just before serving, or even during serving.
Decanting a wine can reveal aromas. So, to not miss out on any flavors, take the time to open your wine when it needs it. This will ensure a tasty tasting experience and reveal the full character of the vintage.