"Because it looks great."
That would be one of Andy Chabot's reasons to decant wine. The director of food and wine at the rustic-chic, yet totally luxurious, Tennessee resort, Blackberry Farm, recently stopped by our Test Kitchen to debunk some myths about decanting—some of which may surprise you.
Decant whenever the spirit moves you. Unless a wine is very, very old (we're talking 35 years or older) and fragile, Chabot says, decanting is a good idea. And it's not limited to reds: Whites benefit equally from being poured into a vessel before serving. "It looks great. It elevates the wine and makes anything fancy," Chabot says. You should always decant a young wine to aerate it, Chabot says, and to get sediment out of old ones.
Want to save your bottle? Definitely decant. This way, Chabot says, the label won't get ruined if it's a wine that needs to be chilled. You can simply decant it, put the vessel on ice and keep your bottle in pristine condition.
There's no need to invest in an actual decanter. Chabot often uses vases or glass pitchers to decant, both at home and at Blackberry Farm. The wide-bottomed decanters you've probably seen at home stores can be a challenge to clean: "They're called ship's or captain's decanters, because they're designed not to spill if you're at sea. So if you're on a ship—perfect," Chabot says with a laugh. Otherwise, feel free to use other vessels you have lying around.
Use denture-cleaner tablets to wash awkwardly shaped, hard-to-clean decanters.
Coffee filters pull double duty. If a wine has sediment, pull out a couple of cheap coffee filters and pour it through. "They're food safe and neutral, and you can get every bit of wine while leaving the sediment behind," Chabot says. "Plus, you get the most bang for your buck." If the sediment starts to build up in the filter, just switch it out for a new one.
Cleaning is easier than you think. If you do have one of those awkwardly shaped, hard-to-clean decanters, all you need are some denture-cleaner tablets. Simply fill your decanter with warm water, let the fizzy tablets go to work, then rinse it out a couple of times with hot water. "Denture cleaner can get it sparkling clean, even it's a little stained," Chabot says.
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