As a wine lover in the U.S., one of the things I find most frustrating is the air of mystery and elitism that drives most people to stick to well-known beer and cocktails. In fact, I not-so-secretly dislike the term "wine snob" because it reinforces that stereotype. Part of this air is the complexity of offerings, and inconsistency in labeling. Part of it is the "ritual" of ordering wine in a restaurant. You've probably been there at one time. Once you get past the seemingly monumental decision of choosing a wine for the table, next are all the other little decisions–What do I do with the cork? Why is the waiter only pouring a little for me? Can I send it back if I don't like it? Do I have to swirl my glass? Why? What are people looking for when they take a big sniff first? How do I know if the wine is supposed to taste like this? All of it can be just too stressful for the less-than-curious drinker. (Incidentally there are tons of useful beginner's guides out there, including this unfortunately named one: http://www.2basnob.com/ordering-wine.html) This leads me to my point–that final bastion of pretension, the epitome of elitist wine practices, the foo-fooiest of the shi-shi things to do...DECANTING! Nodding in agreement? I did too, years ago. Take a deep breath and let me see if I can change your mind. There are two very simple and logical reasons to decant some wines.
- To eliminate sediment from an unfiltered, or especially mature bottle
- To allow the wine to make contact with air, which can improve the taste of some wines by "softening" them, or letting them "open up".