GREAT WINE SHOULD BE OPENED AT LEAST… ONE CENTURY IN ADVANCE

It's a disaster. Every time the same story. You have been invited to dinner and you have been asked to bring the wine but it's a last-minute invitation - say, more or less one month and a half of notice - and you will never find the time to open a good bottle of wine and let it breathe properly to let the wine oxygenate.

Uhm, wait, let me get this straight... the older and the more textured the wine, the sooner the bottle should be opened to let it oxygenate? So, if I own a 2006 Amarone Quintarelli, I should open it today to let my new-born niece enjoy it when she turns 18? There is no point in opening a bottle of wine to let it breathe. Think of the neck of a bottle - how much oxygen do you think can really flow through it?

Sure thing, it is very important that the wine oxygenate, but that's what carafes and decanters are for. It may seem a stupid or difficult step, but it is actually very important and even easier than it seems - quite scenic too, I would say.

Allow me to make this matter a little clearer:

  • "Scaraffare" (lit. pour wine into a carafe)

This procedure is mainly performed with younger wines to get rid of unpleasant odours, like vinous notes or hints of sulphur caused by sulphites, through oxygenation. The act is to be carried out quickly and firmly.

  • Decantation

This procedure is best for wines that have been resting for a few years and that may therefore have deposits at the bottom of the bottle. It consists of a slow action, and the bottle should not be shaken so that particles will not rise from the deposits. Also, decantation of wine is to be performed next to some source of light, which is usually a candle, so that the deposits can be easily seen.

Decanters are also very helpful to bring wine to a proper temperature. If you have a bottle of wine that is too cold, maybe because you have just taken it out from the cellar, or too hot, because someone gave it to you as a gift, you can use a decanter to adjust the temperature. To do so, pour some water in the decanter and spin it around to let the container heat or cool depending on your goal - hot water to warm and cold water to cool, of course. Then, empty the decanter and fill it again with the wine. This method is fairly more practical than leaving your Amarone bottles in the oven or next to a radiator to warm up the wine.

You can also use a decanter if a sparkling wine has too many bubbles, which is a characteristic that someone may understandably find annoying. Indeed, by pouring the wine in the decanter, it will become less bubbly and will therefore be more enjoyable.

BEWARE: THIS PRACTICE WILL DENATURATE THE WINE SO IT IS SOMETHING YOU SHOULD AVOID UNLESS NECESSARY.