How long should you let this wine breathe...?

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Decanting mature double magnums – Ask Decanter

Sterling DePew, by email, asks: We recently enjoyed a double magnum of 1982 Mouton Rothschild, removed from the cellar and immediately decanted. It had been perfectly stored and the colour was youthful.

How long would you allow this wine to breathe either in the glass or decanter to maximise its beauty?

Jane Anson, Decanter‘s Bordeaux correspondent, replies: Decanting older wines is tricky, because often the main argument for doing so is to remove sediment, rather than to allow the wine to open up.

A wine at 30 years old can have a delicate aromatic structure that you want to preserve, rather than allow it to escape into the room; as a result, decanting for too long is not advisable.


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Having said that, Mouton 1982 is still a richly tannic, relatively young wine, and in double magnum will have retained much of its fruit and power.

Part of your enjoyment will be in seeing how the wine evolves in the decanter and glass over a few hours.

Decanting it just an hour or so before service should be enough, but take your time and observe how its flavours deepen and evolve. I wouldn’t be surprised if the wine still tastes beautiful a full 24 hours after decanting.

This question first appeared in the November 2018 issue of Decanter magazine.


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