How to properly oxygenate a wine by Emanuele Spagnuolo 24/02/2019
To oxygenate the wine, decanter yes or decanter no? Good question.
Many enthusiasts often ask me if and how it is worthwhile to oxygenate the wine preparing in the best way to the tasting, especially if you have to do with bottles of fine wines or bottles of vintage wines.
We must make an absolute premise: there are no clear rules and no exceptions.
Having said that, before talking about the importance of oxygenating wine, especially if it is a question of bottles of vintage wine or vintage wine, it is good to base oneself on the distinction between young wines and aged wines.
How do I operate personally?
If the wine to be tasted is young, such as a Gattinara of 2014 for example, you will encounter a complex structure full of details that, in order to be expressed in all their olfactory and gustatory power, require oxygen.
I never doubt in this case in recommending the use of a decanter before tasting the wine, which is also characterized by a wide opening that allows an important flow of oxygen. Decanting in this case does not involve any risk but only advantages.
In short, not a design decanter, an exhibition, perhaps beautiful to look at, but of little practical use, but a real wide and airy wine decanter. A large carafe can also be fine.
In the case of the young wine bottle there is no problem if you choose to oxygenate the wine in the decanter even for a good 1 or 2 hours.
The discourse changes, however, when you choose a good vintage wine, a wine aged much more mature as for example a Chianti of 1981.
In this case the vintage wine bottle was placed vertically for at least 48 hours, before being uncorked, so that all the sediments of the wine go to settle on the bottom.
This operation brings 2 important advantages:
- The body of the wine is cleaned and clarified
- The settling time allows us to pour the wine to the guest of the tasting without the need to filter it or having to observe with a candle (or any other source of light) the amount of sediment at the time of payment
At this point the questions are: oxygenation in the glass? Decanter oxygenation? If the choice is the decanter, are all types good?
In my opinion, if vintage wine seems intact, I mean with an excellent level and a very vivid and limpid color or not excessively aged therefore not over 45-50 years, you can think about using the decanter, but with a important clarification:
unlike young wine, the decanter must not allow an influx of violent and decisive oxygen, it must be characterized by a smaller opening that allows the oxygen to penetrate slowly and dilated over time to avoid giving the vintage wine excessive blow of oxygen in too short a time.
In the case the best and absolutely safest alternative is to uncork the bottle of wine as it ages about 2 hours before tasting and let it oxygenate in the bottle without decanting it, if not use of carafes or decanters.
The narrow and short neck of the bottle provides an ideal, slow and regular oxygen passage in the 2 hours of time before tasting, allowing the oxygen to breathe the wine in the correct way without weakening the intrinsic aspects of its body.
This is certainly the best choice to avoid the risk of killing a bottle of vintage wine, always keeping in mind that to optimize the tasting of a good wine, whatever it is, and appreciate its properties, it should always be accompanied by the choice of a right cup to match it, look that we will deepen better in another article!