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All you really need to know about decanting and cellaring wine.
1. Decanting will benefit young white or red wines
It’s a common misconception that decanting is used only for removing sediment from older wines. Decanting will also benefit young white or red wines as the increased amount of oxygen will allow the wine to break down and release the aroma’s faster. Although decanting benefits varieties such as Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, it is not suited to Rosè, Sparkling and light flavoured whites such as Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris.
Don’t be scared to put that young (two to seven year) Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon into glassware for a few hours before drinking to allow the wine to be at its best. Exposing the wine to oxygen burns off the sulphur, exposing more fruit and therefore more flavour.
2. Not all varieties are made for the decanter
If your wine is already soft, savoury or leathery it is probably best not to decanter and go straight to glass and the mouth ASAP! Adding any more oxygen will only diminish the flavours, length and power of the wine’s fruit character and would do so very quickly. The wine is already old enough, it doesn’t need any more oxygen to encourage any further aging.
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3. Cellar wines for 5 years
A good guide for most white and red varieties made for cellaring is to cellar them for five years. This time allows the wines to evolve and develop some character. If you have a wine that is younger than the best opening date, you can safely reach for that decanter as this will only benefit the wine. The cellaring potential of a wine may also be printed on the back label or available on the winery website.
4. Consistency in temperature is the key to cellaring wine
A wine that is cellared in an environment that experiences temperatures changes from hot to cold to warm to cool will make it negatively impact the resulting quality of the wine. The optimum temperature to cellar is 12 to 14°C.
5. The decanter is an absolutely essential tool for wine lovers
A decanted wine will show more character and depth; you only need to compare a decanted wine to a non-decanted wine to see the huge difference it makes. So get yours out of the cupboard or off the shelf and start using it!!
The McWilliam’s blog is the best place to learn about wine. Browse for wine articles, news, tips and infographics to start your wine education today.
Written by our wine educators and experts, this blog has everything from complex wine ratings to informative articles as well as more light-hearted posts that everyone can enjoy.
Since 1877, when founder Samuel McWilliam first planted vines on the banks of the Murray River in New South Wales, the McWilliam family have produced six consecutive generations of exceptional winemakers.
As custodians of the New South Wales wine industry, McWilliam’s has carefully selected a rich portfolio of premium vineyards located in the cool climate regions of Hilltops, Tumbarumba, Canberra and the expansive plains of the Riverina. Our wines showcase regional specific characters, premium quality, impressive depth and full flavour expression.