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Dear Dr. Vinny,

How long should a bottle of wine be decanted before drinking?

—Robert M., Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Dear Robert,

That’s a very simple question with a really complicated answer.

For starters, check out our Decanting 101 guide. Decanting is a matter of personal preference. It also depends on what the wine is, and how old it is.

For example, I tend to only decant wines when they’re older, and I’m decanting to separate wine from its sediment. I also find older wines fade quickly, so I won't start decanting the wine too long before I'm planning to serve it. Other wine lovers decant young, bold and tannic wines and might watch them open up with air over several hours.

I suggest some experimenting to figure out what you like: Buy two bottles of the same wine and decant one but not the other (it might be more fun of you have someone set up a blind tasting for you). Don’t be surprised if the more research you do, you’ll find that there aren’t any hard and fast rules.

—Dr. Vinny

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