Some tips on Decanting Vintage Wines & Ports
Congratulations! Whether your bottle was a gift, or cost $5, $50 or even $500, using these tips can give you a significantly better chance of having a successful vintage wine experience! Cheers!
1. Let your bottle rest, at room temperature, standing vertically for at least 12 hours (preferably 24) to allow any disturbed sediment to slowly sink to bottom.
2. Open the capsule carefully, with a sharp knife/blade and wipe any deposit on top of cork with a clean cloth.
3. Pull the cork by gently screwing in the corkscrew all the way. Where possible, in one fluid motion (gently place bottle between thighs/knees whilst standing is often best) remove cork. Old corks often break and to that end may need several attempts. If in pieces inside the bottle, either strain through a clean piece of muslin or just decant very slowly, keeping the cork pieces in the bottle.
4. About 30 minutes before drinking decant slowly, preferably with a light source behind the neck of the bottle (candle/lamp etc) into a CLEAN, DRY decanter. Some people prefer to swish around a drop of the wine they have just opened into the decanter and then tip that away before decanting. Stop pouring the moment sediment appears in the neck of the bottle. If necessary, let bottle settle again before decanting.
5. At all times try and be smooth and gentle when handling the wine – but even with all this extra effort, vintage wine, like any wine really, can still taste tainted, tired or lifeless (ie no fruit whatsoever). In which case a double decant may possibly help. Failing that allow the wine an extra hour to breathe and try one more time. After that refer to Point No 6 - open the reserve bottle!
6. Always have a back up bottle of something you know and like just in case. This rule has saved quite a few special nights out!
7. Have fun – enjoy the experience. Even a bottle of vintage wine that didn’t make it can be an interesting and unique experience.