Posts Tagged ‘decanting’

Wine Review: Mas de Gourgonnier Les Baux de Provence 2007

September 30th, 2011 No comments
Mas de Gourgonnier Les Baux de Provence 2007

Mas de Gourgonnier Les Baux de Provence 2007

A “Red Rhone Blend” (a wine made from two or more traditional Southern Rhone grape varieties), this rustic French wine is a well-balanced, fantastic find!  Consisting of 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Carignan, 20% Grenache, and 9% Syrah, its slight barnyard nose, common to many “old world” wines, also includes blackberries, raspberries, and candied scents.  On the tongue, wild berries, raspberries, wood, herb, smoke, and a candied grape taste give this wine quite a unique-yet-well-integrated personality.  With good texture and a medium body, this complex wine will pair successfully with virtually any meal.  Its finish is excellent, being long, satisfying, and persistent; the intensities of the dissipating flavors are close to equal, which helps one better appreciate the counterpoint of flavors.  Riedel Tyrol wine decanterBecause of its age and complexity, this wine is best served decanted.  A decanter like the Riedel Tyrol wine decanter does justice to this “old world” wine quite nicely.  (Plus, you and your guests will be able to better see and appreciate this special wine’s beautiful, dark blue-red hue.)  Though the prominent aromas and flavors are  even better if decanted an hour before consumption, any length of time this wine spends mingling with the air helps to maximize enjoyment.  Cheers!

Wine Review: Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

September 22nd, 2011 No comments
Gnarly Head 2009 California Cabernet Sauvignon

Gnarly Head 2009 California Cab

I’ve been a big fan of Gnarly Head’s Cabs for many years, and the Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 is no exception.  This regal, concentrated wine is rich with dark fruit flavor (currants, black cherries, and tart cranberries), and has a velvety “cab” texture that briefly exposes its well-integrated tannins just before a subtle taste of cloves and violets.  Its consistent, black peppercorn “spice” Riedel Sommeliers Magnum Wine Decantermakes it a perfect companion for meals with meats.  Traditional “steak and potatoes” will always be a good combo, but the wine seems to pair even better with lamb dishes; lamb chops, roast leg of lamb and rack of lamb are perfect companions for the Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon 2009.  The wine works cooperatively with Italian dishes, too, especially pastas with tomato or cheese sauces, or meatballs.  A glass to accompany a robust cheese ravioli or tortellini plate is quite nice!  And decanting a bottle makes it even more immediately amazing.  Try using a stately Riedel Sommeliers Magnum wine decanter to help you quickly open this impressive wine. Cheers!

Should You Decant Port?

July 8th, 2011 1 comment

“Do you decant Port?” is a question that often arises in whispered tones.  Though literature on the subject of decanting this special wine is extensive, most folks aren’t aware of it, and those who are are often scared off by the seeming complexity and effort such decanting–and timing– entails. Person pouring with Riedel Tyrol Wine Decanter
The other night I enjoyed a fantastic glass of Dow’s Late Bottle Vintage Port from 2000.  Though bottled in such a way to avoid getting sediment in the bottle (and supposedly not requiring decanting), this “meant to be enjoyed immediately” quasi-vintage Port underwent a decanting miracle.  With a complex bouquet of wild berries, floral notes, and even a hint of caramel, this rich, full-bodied wine was a symphony of plum, black cherry, fig, apricot, and even dark chocolate on my tongue.  Providing a satisfying, long-lasting finish, this exceptional wine made quite the impression! Interestingly enough, my friends who brought the bottle over were astonished that this was the same wine they selected; it was one of their favorites, too!  Apparently, they had never decanted their Port before, and were experiencing its magical transformation via decanting for the first time.

Decanting Port is often of greater importance than decanting other wines.  Port wines that age in bottles such as Late Bottled Vintage, Crushed Port, and Vintage Port, as opposed to those in casks, are not filtered before they are bottled.  This means that there are more deposits that will form in the bottle.  (Tawny Port, up to 40 years, has its deposits filtered before bottling so it won’t continue to age.)  If you’ve ever been turned off from Port because you once had a glass that contained solid, bitter sediment, your Port was not properly decanted.  But decanting, in addition to removing this safe-yet-unpleasant sediment, is essential to opening up a Vintage Port to bring out its bouquet and flavor.  Because such Ports contain a bit of sediment, it’s often suggested you stand a bottle upright a day or two before opening to get the majority of deposits to sink to the bottom.   Once you’re ready to open your Port, experiment until you find the tool that makes the task easiest for you.  There are a number of tongs, screw pulls, lever pulls, etc. to help you remove the old cork.  Beginners often find Port tongs the most difficult to master, and screw pulls the easiest.  (Many times, because of its age, the cork will break. Do not be discouraged; decanting will help you remove bits of cork that may have fallen into the bottle.)

Once opened, slowly and calmly pour your Port into the decanter of your choice being careful not to stir up the sediment at the bottom by moving the bottle back and forth too much.  Do this in a well-lit area, and with a clear decanter such as a Riedel Vinum Magnum Wine Decanter, so you can see what you’re doing.  When you observe the deposits rising to the neck of the bottle, stop pouring.  If you’re insistent on drinking the little bit of remaining sediment-rich wine, an unbleached coffee filter can be used.  With practice, your decanter will be filled by a majority of sediment-free wine.  Once in the decanter, let the wine sit for a few hours.  Typically, Vintage Port less than 20 years old should be decanted for 2 hours more more before drinking.  Vintage Port less than 10 years old requires more oxidation and should be decanted for three or four hours.  Older bottles are more difficult to gauge because of numerous variables.  That said, 40 year old bottles should receive one hour of air time, and older bottles can be decanted and served immediately.  Opinions on the proper amount of decanting time do differ, but I find these guidelines appropriate for the most common circumstances.  In short, decant your Port!  You’ll be amazed at how good it can be.

Riedel Vinum Magnum Wine Decanter

Decant, and Taste the Difference!

June 20th, 2011 No comments

In a previous post, Dine With Open Wine, we discussed some of the benefits of decanting wine.  While it’s one thing to read about what decanting does to a wine, experiencing it is another matter.  And what better way to experience the dramatic impact decanting has than to conduct your own comparison of decanted and non-decanted wine at home, or with a group of adventurous guests?  You’ll obviously need a good bottle of wine–try this with one of your favorites to really appreciate the effect–and a decanter such as the Riedel Cabernet Wine Decanter or, if you really want to impress, the Riedel Ultra Magnum Decanter.  Next, make sure the glasses you’re using match the wine you’re serving.  (For instance, don’t use white wine glasses if you’re pouring Merlot, etc.)  Wondering about the variety of wine glasses available? Check out our article on types of wine glasses in the Education Center. Ready to shop? We have a full line of Riedel glassware.

After you have selected your wine, open it and fill a set of glasses with it directly from the bottle.  Next, gingerly pour the remaining wine into the decanter of your choice.  (N.B. Most decanted wines begin to open in minutes, so it’s best to serve them shortly after decanting.)  Have your guests smell and taste their wine which came directly from the bottle.  Now, pour the decanted wine into a second set of glasses, and let your guests compare the boutique, taste, and finished of the decanted wine with that which was not decanted.  It’s a guarantee you’ll see many wide, pleasantly-surprised eyes!   While decanting will not make a “bad” wine into an instant winner, it will certainly enhance the appeal of average wines, and substantially augment the pleasure of exceptional wines.  Still not convinced?  Try hosting a decanting party and taste for yourself!  The reward is worth it!  For more detailed information about decanting, or other wine-related topics visit our Wine Storage Education Center online.  Happy decanting!

Dine with Open Wine!

May 27th, 2011 1 comment

wine decanter
Want to learn the basics about decanters and decanting? Check out our Decanting article in the Wine Storage Education Center!

There’s something refreshing about properly-decanted wine, especially when served with the main course!  Some savvy restaurants practice the art of decanting so that your wine will open to its fullest by the time your meal arrives.  The arts of cooking, serving, sipping, and eating all depend on timing.  One disruption to the balance of a prepared meal is a carefully-selected wine that is closed come mealtime.  Waiting for it to open may make your food go cold, and it also disrupts the pace of the dinner.  In short, decanting is a terrific way to help make your wine-paired dinners as well-timed as those you experience in your favorite restaurants.

Though you may already be decanting wine at home, the use of a specialized decanter helps your wine oxidize quicker while adding an element of visual grace and elegance.  In particular, Riedel wine decanters are carefully shaped to allow a greater amount of wine to come into contact with the air.  Unlike a common water pitcher, the Grape Riedel Wine Decanter is crafted for “full oxygenation” which definitely improves the taste and aroma of your favorite wine.  The graceful, mouth blown Riedel Amadeo Lyra Decanter, launched in 2006 to celebrate Reidel’s 250th anniversary, adds additional elegance and style to your wines’ presentation.  The Riedel Extreme Decanter, dubbed “The Work of Art Decanter” by the New York Times, is designed to encourage young wines to open, as well as vintage wines.  (Decanting older wines just before serving helps keep a wine’s brilliance and clarity from being impaired by sediments that may have developed over the years).  No matter what Riedel wine decanter you choose, you’ll be bringing the best of the science of oxygenation and hand-crafter art together, with wine, for a memorable dining experience.

Riedel decanter


All the Pretty Colors

April 4th, 2011 No comments

horse yawn from bobbisworld-dontchaknow.blogspot.comThough much of the emphasis of wine tasting is placed on scent and taste, appearance has an important part to play, too.  Like being able to tell the age of a horse by studying the appearance of its teeth (their shape, number of permanent teeth, angles of incidence, and disappearance of cups), visually evaluating a wine is equally informative.  A wine’s appearance allows one to estimate its actual age, quality, and purity.  Similar the four ways used to examine a horse’s teeth, there are things to look for when examining wine.

Image courtesty of wikipedia

Among them are color, clarity, brightness.  A wine’s color changes as the wine ages.  Older reds appear somewhat tawny, while younger reds are more robust, sometimes with a subtle hint of blue.  Sweet white wines initially look crisply golden, but take on more brown over time.  Dry whites appear very clear at birth, but don a darker, amber shade with age. As a given, the clearer a wine appears the fewer deposits or particles it has.  (Clear wines are ideal, and decanting is not as necessary–though often recommended, depending on the circumstances.)  Lastly, the brightness of a wine denotes its energy and acidity.  A shockingly bright wine is a young wine, a somewhat-bright wine has reached a nice maturity, and a lackluster wine has passed its prime.  While you shouldn’t “look a gift horse in the mouth,” examining your wine for visual clues about its age and personality is not a bad idea.

Categories: Tasting Wine Tags: ,

All Good Wines Take Time

February 22nd, 2011 No comments

GrapesServing wine is a ritual for the senses, similar to having British tea. There’s the artful process of wine selection followed by bottle presentation, uncorking, pouring, relishing the initial aroma of the nose, taking the first sip followed by a lengthier taste to judge both body and finish, and so on. The process of serving wine is not meant not be hurried; this ritual is meant to be savored. Even the glassware and wine opener should be selected with care to evoke the occasion’s desired mood. A cheap corkscrew will clearly not evoke the same aesthetic response as a beautiful, antique-plated Rogar Champion wine opener, for example.

Although some people attempt to rush the ritual, wine cannot be hurried. Its flavors open in their own time. While several products exist to help speed up the aeration process, allowing wine time to naturally aerate in the glass or a decanter is essential to any exciting tasting journey. Sipping a very closed wine, then experiencing how its flavor changes as it begins to open make the wine tasting experience a delight. There’s something magical about how a closed wine will, in a few minutes, begin to breathe, allowing its taste to be unlocked more fully. The expectation and surprise that arise as a wine opens is also symbolic of timeless adage that “all good things take time.” There are certainly many good things that take time in this life, and should! Wine tasting–like most aspects of wine’s creation and enjoyment–is definitely among them.

Great Glassware from Riedel

January 20th, 2011 1 comment

Riedel wine glasses are some of the most popular gifts for wine lovers out there.  And for good reason: Riedel glasses are among the best out there.  They’re handmade and perfectly crafted to get the most taste out of your favorite wines.  They’re also beautiful.

But Riedel doesn’t only make glasses.  They also make gorgeous decanters.  Decanting wine is an oft-ignored but very valuable technique.  It can really help you get the most out of that special bottle you’ve been aging, and it makes for a gorgeous presentation at your next dinner party (or the next time you’re relaxing on the couch at home).  Here are some of our favorite decanters from Riedel.

The Riedel Cabernet decanter is a classic, elegant shape.  It would look gorgeous on your bar or dining room table.  And of course, it will help you bring out the most in your wines.


The Riedel Tyrol decanter is just as elegant, but it takes an unusual, eye-catching shape.  When not in use, it rests gracefully on its side to aerate the wine.

martini pitcher

Ok, ok, this isn’t a decanter.  It’s a martini pitcher!  A martini pitcher is a must-have for parties, and this one, with its classic-yet-edgy shape, will never go out of style.

Categories: Wine Gifts Tags: ,

How to Decant Wine

January 20th, 2010 No comments

So you’ve got an old bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon that’s been aging in the cellar for years.  You think that dinner party Friday night might be the perfect time to show it off to your guests.  But let’s do it right, shall we?  There’s no sense in carefully aging a bottle for years if you’re just going to plop it in the middle of the table.  Decanters are a practical and beautiful tool for serving certain wines properly.  Aged wines and young red wines are both good candidates for decanting.

Aged Wines: As wine ages, the chemical reactions it undergoes produce what Americans call sediment and the French call lees: small solid particles that collect in the bottom of an old bottle.  These particles are harmless to the drinker and may even provide valuable antioxidants, but they are aesthetically unpleasant, and can have a bitter taste that ruins the fine wine experience.  Decanting an old wine removes any sediment that has collected, and makes for a beautiful serving experience worthy of the time you’re spent waiting for that wine to age to perfection.

To decant an old bottle of wine, first make sure to allow several hours to let the bottle stand in an upright position.  This allows the sediment to settle at the bottom.  Though much of the sediment will fall quickly, the fine particles may take up to 24 hours to make their way to the bottom.  When you’re ready to decant the wine, remember that they key is to pour slowly.  Tilting the bottle as little as you can, slowly pour the wine into the decanter.  When you get to the last third of the bottle, start watching carefully for sediment to appear in the neck.  As soon as it does, stop pouring.  As too much exposure to oxygen can diminish the flavor of old wines, serve the decanted wine right away.

Young Red Wines: You don’t need to be as careful when decanting young red wines as you do with old wines, since young red wines have not had time to develop sediment.  So why decant them at all?  Red wines tend to be very high in tannins, compounds which can impart a bitter, astringent taste to the wine.  If exposed to oxygen, or allowed to aerate, these tannins will mellow out and make the wine taste much smoother.  Therefore, in decanting young wines, the goal is to give them as much oxygen as you can.  So go ahead and splash that bottle of wine into the decanter: the more it splashes, the more oxygen it gets.  Let the wine rest for a short while, and then go ahead and enjoy.

Serving wine in a decanter is a great way to make drinking it a little more special.  A beautiful decanter can make an attractive–and useful!–centerpiece for the table.  Vintage Cellars offers some great decanters from that renowned maker of fine glassware: Riedel.  Check out some of Vintage Cellars’ amazing Riedel decanters here.