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11/04/2011 02:06 pm ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Decant Wine

Whether you want to aerate a young wine or filter the sediment from an older vintage, decanting is a valuable skill for any wine lover. Professor Michael Weiss demonstrates how easy it is with a bottle of 1964 Bordeaux. Using a candle as an additional light source near the neck of the bottle, he slowly but steadily pours the wine into a glass decanter, stopping when he sees a small trace of sediment. (The sediment is simply pigments and tannens that combine during years of storage and form a crust in the wine.) Although most of the wine makes it into the decanter, there is still some left in the bottle. Professor Weiss suggests a second decanting for this wine later after the sediment has a chance to settle again, or pouring the wine through a coffee filter to remove the last of the impurities.

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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Professor Michael Weiss from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and today I'm going to show you the kitchen basic of decanting wine.

Decanting is transferring the wine from the bottle into a decanter. Decanters are usually made of glass. The process of decanting is usually done for one of two reasons. Either we're going to do it to aerate a harsh, young red wine, or we're going to decant to separate the sediments from the clear wine in an older bottle of wine. Sediment is the pigments and the tannins that combine to form this crust - so it's more enjoyable to drink a wine that's pure than have those floating bits in your glass of wine.

This candle in front of me, I'm going to use as a light source - I'll be looking at the wine as I pour, it'll be clear, and once I see a little bit of silt or something that looks almost like sand or smoke, that's when I'm going to stop and leave that for second decanting later on. We have an open bottle of '64 Chateau Bouscaut from Bordeaux. It's very important to remember, once you start decanting, not to stop: pour in a steady motion so you don't disturb the sediment.

I lift up my decanter; I have my bottle of wine and I'm looking through the neck and the candle is giving me a clear view of the wine. I pour in a steady motion: this part is perfectly clear, and now I'm seeing some deposit so I'm going to stop. If I really want to save the rest of this wine, I can do another decanting later on, with the candle or maybe even with a coffee filter or something else to strain out the little bits.

Now I have a pure wine here, and that's more pleasurable to serve to my friends and family. I'm going to pour a little bit in a glass, and this fine old red wine is ready to be enjoyed.

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