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SommEvents Blog

To Decant Or Not to Decant Wine?

What am I talking about?

How, when and where to use a decanter, is the subject of this blog.

I am often asked if it is important to use a decanter, how to use a decanter, how to choose a decanter and options for decanters. I will attempt to answer these questions about decanters in this blog.

If you don’t understand the use of a decanter you may think that it is a pretty item to add to your wedding or gift registry. You may think a decanter is a nice way to decorate your wall unit shelf or your dining room table. Actually, a decanter is a very useful tool to have on hand if you ever drink wine!

The first question is, why is it important to use a decanter? A decanter is a glass vessel that holds at least one full bottle of wine. You use a decanter to give the wine some oxygen and let it breath before you pour it in your wine glass. It is important to let the wine breath because it will give it the time to bring all the elements of the wine together and give you a better tasting glass of wine. I always use the analogy that after being in a bottle for a few years, would you not want to stretch your legs? To let wine, stretch out and relax in a bigger vessel to bring all the great qualities of the wine together. Oxygen allows the wine to breath and brings the wine to life, and a decanter allows this to happen.

Are all decanters made of glass? It is best to use a glass decanter because when decanters are made from other materials, decanters could affect the taste of the wine. We always try to keep the wine away from any metals for that reason. They also allow you to see the colour of the wine which can be an indication of the age of the wine, but that’s another blog topic!

The next question is, how to use a decanter? Different wines will benefit from being in a decanter for different periods of time. Some wines can use hours in a decanter to really get the full benefits and some wines can benefit from being in the decanter for 20 minutes. How do you know how long to leave your wine in the decanter? You can ask the wine merchant or the person who sold you the wine, you can ask someone who has used a decanter in the past and you can always Google it! Wine Folly is always a good source of information. Here is what they have to say.

Most of us drink red wines in the 2–10-year mark, so the following advice is tailored to regular drinking habits. - Wine Folly

Red Wines

  1. Zinfandel: 30 minutes

  2. Pinot Noir: 30 minutes (e.g. red Bourgogne)

  3. Malbec: 1 hour

  4. Grenache/Garnacha Blend: 1 hour (e.g. Côtes du Rhône, Priorat, GSM)

  5. Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot: 2 hours (e.g. Bordeaux)

  6. Petite Sirah: 2 hours

  7. Tempranillo: 2 hours (e.g. Rioja, Ribera del Deuro)

  8. Sangiovese: 2 hours (e.g. Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti)

  9. Vintage Port & Madeira: 2 hours

  10. Mourvèdre/Monastrell: 2–3 hours (e.g. Bandol)

  11. Dão and Douro Reds: 2–3 hours

  12. Syrah/Shiraz: 2–3 hours

  13. Nebbiolo: 3+ hours (e.g. Barolo, Barbaresco)

White Wines

Most white wines don’t need to be decanted, in fact, if the wine is highly aromatic decanting may hurt. Occasionally, however, white wines taste funky–like steamed mushrooms– and decanting will fix this! This flavour is common in full-bodied white wines from cooler climates like a white Bourgogne (e.g. Chardonnay). Decant for about 30 minutes.

Now the third question, how to choose a decanter. One part of me wants to say get the decanter that you like the best, and the prettiest one but that is not a practical answer.

For me, the important part of choosing a decanter is how it feels in my hand when I am pouring wine. I want to make sure I don’t have to do gymnastics to get the bottom of the decanter emptied in the wine glass and I want to make sure I can get a good grip on the decanter to avoid any spills or accidents. If you are buying only one decanter, one with a wider base is preferable. This will allow more wine to be exposed to oxygen and this will benefit the wine the most.

If you want to buy a decanter as a gift or to complete your collection, there are different types of decanters for the different types of wines. Chose a decanter to go with the type of wine you enjoy the most.

The last question is about options to decanters. You may not have the space to store a decanter in your kitchen or your home. You may want a decanter for your travels, or you may want to decant one glass of wine at a time. What to do in these instances?


There is the Venturi which will decant one glass of wine at a time and other aerators that will do the same. The Venturi seems to be so popular because it comes with its own stand and it collects any drips that may occur.

The other item that does a great job of decanting a wine is the Sensis glass. Made in Germany, this line of stemware is an aerator in itself. We don’t know the chemistry behind it, as the product has not been patented, but from personal experience, it works beautifully.

I often will give an experience to my guests and clients with these glasses.

I pour the wine, in front of my guests, in 2 different glasses that are the exact same shape and I ask them to leave the wine glasses on the table for about 15 minutes.

When the time is up, I ask them to taste the wine from both glasses. The difference between the two glasses is always remarkable. Are you interested in trying this experience? Contact us at to book an in-home wine tasting and one of our associates will be happy to share this experience with you and your friends.

Awaken Your Senses text with a variety of wine glasses

Happy tastings!


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