ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I am curious about the protocol for decanting large-format bottles of wine. For a double-magnum or larger bottle, should you use multiple decanters? Is it OK to use one decanter and refill it after the wine breathes and is poured into glasses?

—Jeffe L., Columbus, Ohio

Dear Jeffe,

I recommend that you don't interrupt the decanting process; otherwise you'll stir up the sediment, defeating the purpose. For some expert advice, I checked with Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein. This is what Evan had to say:

"When decanting a large-format bottle, one should be prepared in advance with several decanters, the number depending on both the size of the decanters (single-bottle vs. magnum decanters) and, of course, on the size of the bottle being decanted. The process of decanting should be continuous. Once you start, don't stop until you are finished, as the wine's sediment will invariably be agitated. You'll likely need the help of someone to keep changing/replacing decanters for you. If it's a large bottle (larger than a jeroboam), you'll probably need a second helper to assist you in holding the bottle steady while the decantation is taking place."

—Dr. Vinny


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