A Professional Approach to Decanting
To decant or not to decant. That is the question – just not for James Treadwell, sommelier and co-owner of Treadwell Farm to Table Cuisine in Port Dalhousie, Ontario.
“I think in the restaurant, it freaks people out when they see me decant whites. But at home, I essentially decant everything. I think it really, really benefits the wine, even if it’s a $12 or $15 table wine,” he says about his penchant for pouring everything from sparkling to Icewine into a decanter, a technique he perfected during his time at the Chewton Glen Hotel in England.
If the question then isn’t whether to decant or not, perhaps it is why.
“The classical definition of decanting is to remove the wine from its sediment. It’s become much more than that now,” Treadwell says. “It provides a great opportunity to accelerate the maturation process and open up the wine. Most bottles we drink are two to 10 years old, we decant so the wines breathe and certainly to bring it to a proper temperature, especially in the case of whites.”
And what type of decanter to pour your wine into?
Treadwell suggests that his technique is the same as when purchasing wine glasses – just go out and buy something that is solidly crafted within your budget.
A step-by-step decanting primer
- The process of decanting is simple. If you are decanting a wine that has sediment, store it standing up for about a week prior to opening in order for the deposit to settle at the bottom of the bottle. When it’s time to serve, pour a small sample into a glass first in order to test its quality.
- This sample can also be used to rinse the decanter, a step that Treadwell highly recommends. “Be sure to season the carafe to remove any sort of dust or water that might be within the decanter. You’re sacrificing maybe one percent of the wine, but it’s for the betterment of the wine.”
- Once the decanter is primed, carefully pour the wine into the carafe while holding a lit candle in front (not directly above, as heat can crack glass) of the bottle in order to see when the bottom of the wine, and any sediment in it, approaches. If the bottle is without sediment, simply glug the wine into the decanter.