Wine needs oxygen to breathe to release its full aromatic potential and enhance our tasting experience. To this end, various techniques are recommended by the sommelier, including decanting, carafage and aeration. Our experts are at hand to take you through the terms and top tips to get the absolute best out of your wines.
Please note that all our wine serving tips will vary according to the way the wines have been stored. A wine that has been kept in a temperature-controlled cellar should be handled differently to a bottle kept in a warm kitchen. These conditions will have a significant impact on the final quality of the wine and the way it is best appreciated.
Decanting – a noble act
Decanting is carried out essentially to carefully and slowly remove any solid matter or sediment from a wine. This is generally the case with older wines that are more susceptible to gather sediment over time. This said, it is advisable to proceed with caution with older, more fragile wines that are less likely to withstand decanting and in danger of losing some of their subtle aromas. By choosing a decanter with a narrow neck and base, the amount of wine in contact with the air is kept to a minimum, which in turn avoids losing any aromas through over-aeration.
Our fine wines such as Château Belgrave, Château La Garde, Château Le Boscq, Grand Vin de Ricaud and Château Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac will all benefit from gentle, careful decanting, ideally further to around 10 years’ cellar-ageing.
“Carafage”: wine in the splendour of youth
“Carafage” is a similar process to decanting, though here the emphasis is on encouraging younger wines to “breathe” and reveal their full expression. Once again, the choice of decanter is paramount in order to maximise the surface area of the wine in contact with the atmosphere. Generally speaking, younger red wines are most likely to benefit from this procedure. White and rosé wines that normally peak two years after bottling will not benefit substantially. At Dourthe we recommend a wine be decanted two hours before tasting, so the bouquet has reached its full potential by the time it is poured.
If you prefer your wine served in the original bottle, the “Bordeaux” method advocates decanting a wine two hours before serving and then returning it to its original bottle just before pouring.
All Dourthe wines can be decanted while still relatively young, ideally 4-5 years after bottling for wines such as Dourthe N°1, Dourthe La Grande Cuvée, Dourthe Grands Terroirs or our estate second wines; equally over the course of the first 10 years for Dourthe fine wines.
Aeration: revealing the full aromatic potential of a wine
Various tools on the market are available to help aerate a wine, and are often very effective, particularly in the case of younger wines. Wine aerators are among a number of devices that ensure the correct amount of oxygen is distributed through the wine so it can release its full aromatic potential. However, this can be quite a shock to a wine and potentially harmful, rapidly modifying its aromatic profile.
We recommend instead a much gentler approach, where the wine is left to breathe in a cool place with the cork removed for 6—12 hours, so becoming increasingly elegant and refined. The wine will retain its aromatic intensity as the surface area in contact with the air is limited to the neck of the bottle. This slow oxygenation unleashes the full potential of the aromas, on the nose and palate alike, while respecting the profile of the wine.