The Down-Low On Decanting
To decant or not to decant?
Like a library filled with well-thumbed books, a well-stocked bar offers an irresistible invitation to pause, turn off the ringer on one’s smartphone, and relax. As you’re arranging your bar, think like a bartender and include white and red wine, vodka, gin and vermouth for martinis, white or dark rum, tequila, a craft bourbon, a Scotch whiskey, an Irish whisky, a rye whiskey, and cognac or brandy. Add a selection of liqueurs such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau, Bailey’s, Kahlúa, and St-Germain elderflower liqueur. Good quality wine and cocktail glasses are a must, as they enhance the presentation, the taste, and the experience.
If you’re serious about wine, keep several glass or crystal decanters on hand, as most wine experts believe that decanting, or transferring the contents of a bottle to another container, improves the taste of virtually any bottle of wine. By agitating the wine, decanting adds oxygen, allowing the flavors to develop. Especially with older wines, decanting also helps separate the wine from the sediment, which can cause a bitter taste.
While decanting is not necessary for spirits, as the high alcohol content keeps the flavors stable, it won’t hurt them. While many people love seeing the different colors and labels of spirits bottles on their bar, some prefer a row of elegant decanters, while others love to mix and match. Whether you choose glass or lead-free crystal decanters, be sure to choose ones with tight seals on the lids to minimize air getting into the bottles. To see how we mixed and matched our own collection of bottles and decanters, check out our “RAISING THE BAR” story in Cambria Style.