How quickly should you drink wines after decanting them...?

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When should you drink wine after decanting it? – Ask Decanter

Tõnu Meidla, Estonia asks: How soon does a wine start to decline in quality after being decanted? Should we hurry to drink every wine quickly after decanting?

Isa Bal MS replies: Most wines produced today do not need decanting (like a vintage Port would due to its sediment) but may benefit from it.

The benefit of decanting is to allow a wine to breathe in more oxygen; this helps bring out the complexity of aromas and flavours after confinement in bottle. However, many people – myself included – prefer to serve wine straight from the bottle and then taste through its evolution in the glass.

Mature wines, especially those that are light bodied, will open up in a decanter in as little as 10 or 15 minutes, but may start to lose aromas after about an hour, so you should keep this in mind when serving them.


Double decanting: What is it and when should you do it? – ask Decanter


It may be enough just to open the bottle and let the wine breathe without decanting.

Taste it after opening then wait 15 minutes and taste again; if it has not developed to your liking, then try decanting.

Young and/or very tannic, full-bodied wines can take more than an hour to benefit from decanting – some needing four hours or more to fully express themselves. These should remain more stable for longer before suffering any ill effects from exposure to oxygen.

Isa Bal MS is a wine consultant and former head sommelier at The Fat Duck.

This question first appeared in the June 2018 issue of Decanter magazine, subscribe to Decanter here.