Wine Talk

Snooth User: Noddy

Learning the basics and vocabulary

Posted by Noddy, Nov 16, 2008.

Hi very new here, trying to learn the basics and vocabulary too!, Would you say that you should decant most wines or is this a practice you would do for just certain varieties? Also, Is there a certain time limit to let each variety breath?


Reply by ChipDWood, Nov 17, 2008.

Hi Noddy: Just today I was in need of a definition of a wine term, and remembered the Epicurious "Wine Dictionary". While it doesn;t have every term it's plenty useful when you need to look something up:

As far as decanting, I don't decant much of anything anymore, but I've known several folks much more knowledgeable than myself concerning wine that still swear by it. The "Decant EVERYTHING" crowd. For the bigger cabs, younger Bordeaux, Ports, and monster Shiraz and the like: I could totally see decanting. Not for much else though, least for me personally. I've experienced a few too many times where the wine was "shocked", and just didn't respond too well to all that "Insta-breathing". Force-fed cpr.

Truth is, I've been witness to what could be called a disaster decision to decant when it was absolutely the wrong thing to do. Was a bottle of 1974 Domaine de la Romanee Conti, Romanee-St.-Vivant ( - and as soon as the wine began to be poured into that big old glass beast it began to break down. The bottle, in good condition and all, wound up lasting for about 3 minutes before sliding irreversibly off the table.

Being a Pinot, obviously it's going to be a more fragile wine, and have a much more dramatic and abbreviated "lifespan" once poured. In THAT case, it would have been much smarter to pour gently, right to the glass, and allow the wine to come to life in each glass- rather tha shocking the poor thing into leaping to life so quickly and forcefully, only to have it crash so quickly.

TO each their own though. I've also had an experience or two in the other direction, where by the time a good cab had reached the end of the bottle it was finally showing signs of life- and it was gone (drunk) before it came into its own.

Reply by oceank8, Nov 17, 2008.

I usually drink heavier wines so I pretty much decant them all. Lighter wines, like Pinots, often should not be decanted. What I enjoy is that there are many aerators now where you can test the difference. When I bought my Vinturi I started pouring a little sip without running it through and then a little sip with running it through. That way you can see what you like better. I began to determine that I like most of mine wines decanted (but again, I drink a lot of big, bold, fruity California wines).

Reply by ChipDWood, Nov 17, 2008.

That's a great point: Something like the Vinturi can be used to aerate a wine rather than having to decant the whole bottle. One glass through the Vinturi, one not, and the difference can really be noted.

We've used the Vinturi with some of the examples that I pour at work- but not with any truly substantial cabs yet. I am definitely going to keep that in mind when the opportunity comes about :).

Reply by Philip James, Nov 17, 2008.

Noddy - We actually have a glossary on the site: - written by own very own Oceank8!

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