You do not need to open a 30 years old bottle, full of sediments to use and enjoy a decanter. Even if you're drinking a wine with only 9 months aging as Prieto Pariente 2013, a decanter surely makes it even more attractive and appealing.
There are two main purposes for a decanter: to remove sediment and to aerate the wine.
1. To remove the sediment of a wine
As a wine ages, if it has not been filtered or had only a very gentle filtering to avoid damaging the wine, it can form a sediment that accumulates in the bottom of the bottle. This sediment does not indicate that the wine has been damaged or have poor quality, on the contrary, it may even be a sign of excellent quality not being filtered. The decanter can remove this sediment, to do so serve the wine in the decanter slowly, keeping the precipitate in the bottle.
How do you do this? First, a day before drinking a wine from an old vintage or stored for a long time, you should set it upright (during storage should be lying). Let it settle in a vertical position for a day so that the sediment can fall slowly to the bottom of the bottle. The next day open the bottle and slowly and carefully serve the wine in the decanter. Towards the end, you will have to look carefully and stop serving when the sediment shows. In some restaurants sommeliers use a candle or other light under the bottle to better see the sediment, it is a good trick that you can also use at home.
2. To aerate the wine
Chances are that you'll have many more opportunities to use a decanter for this second reason: aerate a wine whetheris young or not. We often find ourselves wanting to drink wine immediately, even when it is still very young. To help soften it a bit we should let the wine breathe. Openning the bottle and leave it to aerate is usually not enough as the diameter of the neck of the bottle is not big enough. Pouring the wine into a decanter allows much more contact surface between the wine and the air, making a young and "tight" wine open. The air helps the aromas and flavors to open up allowing you to enjoy more a wine. This is the way to enjoy a young Rioja as El Nino, a Ribera del Duero Crianza as Valdubón or from any other area for that matter.
So take the decanter from the shelf and use it! It will enhance your wine drinking experience and it will look good on the table.
Also remember that a beautiful decanter is a good gift for a wine lover, whether to use it or put it on the shelf...
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