Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny

Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Dear Dr. Vinny,

The question I have is about age vs. decanting. I enjoy some age to my wine and would like to know if there is some way to correlate decanting time with age. Or does the taste become dissimilar between the two methods?

—Ed C., California

Dear Ed,

Aging a wine and decanting (or otherwise aerating) it are not interchangeable activities. Both can have similar results, to a point. Decanting can make a wine seem smoother and more integrated, and good wines that have aged well can also seem smoother and more integrated. There’s not much more of a conclusion you can make past that.

It may help to understand if you consider what’s physically happening to a wine when it’s decanted and while it’s aged. When a wine is decanted, it’s exposed to oxygen, and it starts to evaporate. While a wine is aging, it has only a minimal level of oxidation (assuming a proper seal), but some completely different things happen: phenolic compounds link together and drop out of suspension to become sediment, the color of the wine changes, its fruit flavors fade and secondary notes come into the foreground.

Part of what’s so fantastic about observing wines is seeing how they evolve—in the glass, in the decanter, in the cellar and as you move through life. It’s tempting to want to find shortcuts or figure out algorithms to explain the mysteries of how wine works, but it’s more efficient (and more enjoyable) to simply open a bottle and taste it.

—Dr. Vinny

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.