Rob Giamboi, Staten Island, New York, asks: If I take a bottle of white out of my wine cabinet at the perfect temperature, but it needs decanting and breathing for a few hours, how can I make sure it still eventually gets served at the right temperature?
Matthieu Longuère MS, wine development manager at Le Cordon Bleu, London, replies: The type of white wines that need to be decanted are: still very young and have not developed all the desired aromas; were fermented or aged in oak with the palate feeling still a bit out of balance; or a very old wine that needs to open up after being without enough oxygen for a while.
Common examples would be top Chenin Blanc from the Loire or South Africa, good Riesling from Germany or Alsace, oak-aged Sauvignon Blanc or Pessac-Léognan-type blends, top barrel-fermented, cool-climate Chardonnay or grand cru and premier cru white Burgundy, Hunter Valley Semillon, or top barrel-fermented whites from Spain.
You can find specially designed white wine decanters that are slim enough to fit in a standard fridge door or a cooler. Otherwise, an ice bucket filled with cold water and a few ice cubes will do.
The correct temperature is debatable though, as most decanted white wines benefit from being served not too cold – ideally at cellar temperature around 12°C, so as not to kill the flavours and aromas.
Personally, I never decant any wine too far in advance as there is no coming back from excessive oxidation. You can always double decant the wine slowly, from one decanter to another, or from decanter to the original bottle, until the taste of the wine suits you.
In this case, there is actually no need to decant the wine too long in advance and you don’t need to plan your drinking too far ahead.
This question first appeared in the August 2019 issue of Decanter magazine.