Welcome to Vine Geeks, where Brian Reeder and Pavle Milic of AZ Wine Merchants take the drinking game quite seriously. Pay attention -- you might just learn something.
You may have heard of this 'decanting' business. In fact, you may have seen it at a restaurant and wondered why someone was pouring the wine from the bottle into a pretty glass jug before it found its way into glasses.
Was it because it looks so fancy? Yep. Was it to make sure the wine doesn't have all kinds of stuff floating in it? Yep. Was it to aerate or 'open up' the wine and expose it to oxygen? Yep.
Wine is decanted for any of the reasons above. I think that it's primarily done for the fanciness factor, because swirling and swishing your way to snooty-dom is a great way to impress friends and colleagues (or make them think you're a total snob.. or both). But, decanting does have merit - quite a bit of it depending on whom you talk to. Personally I think decanting is a great way to help a wine show it's very best in the right circumstances, and with the right bottle.
Do I decant every bottle I open? God no. For me it's an issue of how much I spent on the bottle, and how old it is. If I'm drinking a Tuesday night wine, you better believe it's going straight from the bottle to my glass - no stops in between needed. But if I'm at a nice dinner or opening a special/fun bottle, I'll try to treat the wine properly so that it's drinking well.
So, why would you decant a bottle of wine? There are primarily two reasons: removing sediment, and aerating the wine.