09 Oct Everything You Need to Know About Decanting Port
Some believe that decanting Port is quite tricky and that it’s best left to those who have some experience with it. But it’s really not that tough. Let’s take a look at what’s involved.
1. Why Do You Need To Decant Port?
There are two primary reasons for decanting port wine. Firstly, you need to remove the sedimentation that settles in the wine which can make the beverage gritty and unpleasant to drink. This sediment is lees or dead yeast cells. In the case of Vintage Port, it’s the particulate matter from the stems, seeds and skins of the grapes. The second reason is that in the case of specific ports, especially younger vintages, decanting allows them to breathe and the flavours develop inside the decanter. This is true in the case of some older Ports as well.
2. Do All Ports Need Decanting?
You do not need to decant all ports. Typically, there are two types of port wine- wood-aged ports and bottle-aged ports. The latter need decanting, but there are certain exceptions to the rule. Wood-aged ports would be filtered during their bottling process and don’t need decanting, with some odd exceptions.
3. Which Decanter Is Best For Decanting Port?
The decanter you use would be entirely dependent on your personal taste. A ship’s decanter is the most traditional type. These have flat, wide bases that rise upwards into a graceful, narrow neck with a snug stopper. You must opt for plain decanters without any elaborate cut-glass patterns; this will allow you to see the Port as it is without any distractions.
You will find a wide range of products on the market, and if you don’t have one, a clean glass jug will work perfectly well for decanting. It’s also necessary to make sure that the decanter is dry and clean as soap residue and musty smells can easily get transferred to the Port, affecting its flavour and quality. Even when you have a dry and clean decanter it’s best to rinse it using a cheaper port, or some red wine to remove any lingering nasty aromas.
This is the process you follow in decanting wine:
- Once you have a clean decanter, your opened bottle of Port that’s been kept upright for a few days, a proper light source, and a Port funnel, you can start decanting the wine.
- The most crucial aspect at this stage is to make sure that you use a single fluid, gentle motion to pour the wine from its bottle to the decanter. Stop just as the first flecks of sediment begin pouring out of the bottle.
- If you stop midway, set the bottle upright before starting again, you will surely end up mixing all the sediment into the Port, and that will only ruin all the good work you have done so far.
- The other crucial aspect is that you shouldn’t attempt to get almost all the Port out of the bottle. You can leave some with the sediment in the bottle.
- It’s just not worth trying to get those last dregs out as some of the sediment will surely flow out with it making the drink unpleasant. You can easily use the bit that’s left in the bottle, in your cooking.
- A good light source is crucial as you must be able to see when the sediment is approaching the neck of the bottle. Decanting Port is all about stopping the pouring action at the right time. You can also use a Port funnel or a wine funnel for decanting the wine, by lining it with a natural piece of cheesecloth or muslin.
Following the right decanting process will ensure that the wine is perfect for drinking and that there is no sedimentation in it to mar your enjoyment. Correct wine storage is also essential in maintaining the quality and condition of Port.
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