Wine Term: Decant
Variations: Open, Oxygenate, Aerate, Breathe, Breathing
What it really means: Allowing the wine to interact with oxygen after the cork is removed.
While there are all sorts of currently, highly marketed devices and fancy (expensive) vessels that double as art pieces, a good old glass juice pitcher works just as well (sometimes better).
Some aerators pump oxygen bubbles in the wine as you pour, some glass decanters have strangely shaped walls to maximise cascading into the vessel to increase oxygen interaction, but nothing works quite as good as patience and time.
Decanting can simply occur by leaving the cork out of the bottle itself, but due to the wine bottle shape, oxygen interaction will occur more slowly, hence the larger more open vessels you may see in the marketplace.
How to effectively use it:
No wrong way to use this term really. You can say you’re leaving the wine open, you can say you’re decanting it, you can say you’re letting it get some air, it’s breathing, it’s stretching its legs, honestly, anything you feel rolls off the tongue properly and indicates the wine interacting with the air after first being opened.
Bad idea: “When should I drink this after I pull the cork?”
Better approach: “How long should the wine breathe before serving?”
Best approach: “I’m curious to find out what the current recommendation is for decanting this wine? I’d hate to not let it stretch its legs enough before serving to my guests.”
Might not get free pours for this knowledge, but you’ll definitely get the answer you’re looking for, and to enjoy a wine at the premier time after opening, well…that’s priceless.