Wine Words Demystified – Decant

You know the deal; the more some folks learn about a topic, the more shortcuts/slang/acronyms/initials/technical jargon can be tossed around.  I’m here to help you understand those sometimes mysterious words and phrases, thus - Wine Words Demystified!

This week’s word is Decant

According to Karen MacNeil‘s The Wine Bible:

The act of pouring a wine (generally an older wine) off any SEDIMENT or deposits that may have precipitated out and settled in the bottle.  Sometimes the term is used to describe the action of pouring a young wine into a decanter to mix it with oxygen and open it up, but this is more correctly called AERATION

As if wine isn’t sometimes confusing enough wine words, which do not technically have the same meaning, are used interchangeably (e.g. bouquet and aroma).  That’s certainly the case with the term decant, which as noted above is all about separating sediment in a bottle of wine from the wine.  This is done by holding a light against the bottle as the wine is poured into a decanter. The light shines through the bottle and allows the sediment to be seen, thus allowing one to know when to stop pouring.  It can be something fancy like the one picture below, or a simple as a lab beaker.

The issue is that a decanter may be used not only to decant a wine (separate the wine and the sediment in the wine). It may also be used to aerate (also know as letting the wine breathe by exposing it to air) the wine.

So if you care to get it exactly right, the next time you pour wine in a decanter to aerate it, do not say that you are “decanting” the wine.  Rather indicate you are “aerating” the wine.

Cheers!

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