One question that I’m asked quite frequently is “Do you need to decant all red wines.” I’m sure you’ve been told by your English teachers that “All” and “Never” are bad, bad words. There are, however, several reasons to decant wines. First, as wines age, sediment will settle in the bottle as part of the natural process. Decanting gives you the opportunity to pour the wine carefully, leaving the sediment in the decanter while the wine makes it to your glass. Another reason to decant wines is to allow air to mix with younger wines, opening them up and bringing out the bouquet and palate.
Young red wines are often very tannic, which occurs naturally as part of the fermentation process. Red wines are fermented with the skins, seeds and stems in some cases, and the tannins in those three parts of the plant is imparted into the wine. The drying of your mouth, similar to when you drink tea, is the effect that tannins have when you drink wines. By allowing wines to age, or to decant, you allow the tannins to soften, and the wine becomes more expressive and approachable. That’s “wine geek” for it has a more fragrant bouquet and is easier to drink.
There are several products on the market that aerate wines quickly, so that you don’t need to wait for the decanter and air to do their work. Some wines need an hour or more in the decanter, the air breaking down the tannins, to make the wine ready to drink. I’ve used the Vinturi aerator for a year, and have found that while not as effective as being patient and allowing the wine to breathe naturally, it does a good job of sucking air in via two small holes, and infusing it into the wine as it passes through the device. However, I was given a Wine Soiree to try, and I have to say, it’s my device of choice right now.
The Wine Soiree is an on the bottle aerator. That means you stick it into the mouth of the wine bottle and pour the wine through it. There are three holes in the glass bulb, which bring air in as the wine passes through, speeding up the process of aeration. I’ve used this in three different tests with decanting and two other methods of speed aeration, and find it works the best next to actually decanting. It’s also very nifty to use at parties, with a great effect of the wine swirling around the bulb. Available online, I feel it’s $25 well spent if you want to make young, tannic red wines ready to drink quickly.
The next device, so to speak, I’ve used is the Eisch Breathable Glass. Available online or in stores such as Macys or Bed, Bath, and Beyond, these crystal glasses made in Germany, go through a manufacturing process to treat the glass such that it aerates wine in 5 minutes which is the equivalent of an hour of decanting. There has been a ton of press on these glasses, from Riedel suing over the aeration claims, to a number of bloggers opinions on the effect of the glasses like the Lushious Lushes wine blog. Personally, I found that the glasses definitely made young, “tight” wines more approachable faster. I also found that pouring a full glass that I sipped slowly did make the wine go “flat” after 15 or 20 minutes. Perhaps the aeration effects continued after the first 5 minutes, when the wine was open.
To avoid the going flat effect, I poured less wine in the glasses, and had no further problems. I like the glasses very much, and feel they’re gorgeous glasses and a pleasure to drink from, with or without their aeration properties. Eisch is a relative newcomer to the crystal glassware arena, going back about 50 years, but I’m proud to have their glasses in my stemware cabinet. And while I think their glassware is gorgeous, their decanters are works of art.
Again, available online at places like Amazon.com, wine.com, and frontgate.com, as well as the stores I mentioned above, Eisch has absolutely gorgeous works of art to pour your wines from. This Duck decanter is elegant and stylish, and the decanter at the top of the post, with the glass piece that can be filled with ice to keep the wine cool if necessary, is so striking. After bringing it to the Daytime TV studio for the segment, several people went online to order them as holiday gifts.
So what does all this mean? It means if you typically select young red wines, and aren’t a fan of waiting for them to open, trying a Wine Soiree or Eisch Breathable Glass could make your wine drinking experience more enjoyable. And if you are a fan of waiting and the art and ceremony of decanting wines, or the necessity if you are enjoying aged wines, then the Eisch decanters I had the pleasure of sampling will make that experience even more enjoyable.
**Disclaimer** Some of the items discussed here were provided as press samples