Chambrez Vos Vins
Leave everyday reds and whites until the day you need them, but bring your finer reds up from a cool cellar the day before to bring them gently upto room temperature.
Let The Wine Breathe
When you have pulled out the cork some restraint is needed. Let the wine interact with the air, it helps the aromas develop and eases out the flavours.
Delicate Or Commercial Wines
With a delicate wine, or most commercial wines, there's little need to practice the above. It may even prove fatal for the more volatile mature wines – just uncork and enjoy.
To Set The Process Off
Either leave the bottle standing, cork off, or better still, pour into a decanter. This will not give the wine nearly as much airing as when it is left in the bowl of a glass. Younger, more closed wines need longer. More complex wines really show their class with a little time.
Separate The Wine From Its Sediment
The main basis for decanting is to separate good wine from sediment. Vintage port and mature claret are the greatest culprits. Barely filtered California Cabernets (Cabernet Sauvignon being renowned for throwing a deposit) or Rhones (Syrah another sediment fiend) may muddy your glass if undecanted.
Let The Sediment Settle
Sediment must settle in one place. Leave the wine upright – for 12 hours plus. Alternatively, use a decanting basket which tilts the bottle at 45 degrees, leaving the sediment on the underside of the bottle. Position the bottle neck towards the decanter with a good strong light or candle the other side. Pour slowly and steadily, lifting the bottle as you go, until the sediment has reached the neck. There is no need to filter if the sediment was settled well. Filtering can also taint the wine.
Decanting whites is of no great use, except for the sweeter dessert styles. Swirling the glass should give adequate aeration.
As a rule of thumb, keep white wines to a maximum of 11 degrees centigrade (cooler for light, acidic still and sparkling). Reds can be just as sensitive: keep them to a maximum of 18 degrees centigrade (cooler for the more mature wines. Try chilling your Beaujolais or Loire reds . Always use a bucket and iced water.
It is possible to over-chill wine. This is a type of vinous character assassination so caution is urged.
Ease Your Wine Out Of The Bottle
The wine should be poured slowly into the glass from the bottle or decanter, letting the wine trickle gently out - unshaken and unstirred.