For the past 4 years, Bentley’s Grill guests have benefited from the expertise of our Wine Steward, Mark Jacklich.
Mark is exceptionally familiar with the winemaking process and grape varitials through his studies with the Court of Master Sommeliers. He has also spent a great deal of time studying the wine making process at local vineyards and even working with Jim Bernau’s team at Willamette Valley Vineyards.
Mark happily shares his knowledge and recommendations with anyone who asks and writes a series of posts for our blog we like to call “Wine Notes with Mark“. We have assembled some of his best tips and recommendations to help you get the most out of your wine tasting experience in a new “Best Of” series.
Letting wine breathe, decant, or aerate is simply allowing your wine to be exposed to the surrounding air. As a good rule of thumb, most wines need a good 15 minutes to let them show their character. By allowing wine to mix and mingle with the air, the wine will “open up” and the wine’s aroma will be more present.
A decanter’s main purpose is to allow a wine to have more contact with air while reducing the amounts of sediment that make it into a glass. The result is a softer and more mellow flavor profile and the overall flavor characteristics should improve.
While red wines typically benefit more than whites from this process, Mark says there are a few whites that can evolve when allowed to open up (mainly Chardonnay). He frequently recommends ordering a white wine as a starter to our guests and a big bodied Cabernet at the same time. “While the guests are enjoying the light, refreshing starter, the other will be opened, decanted, and ready by the time dinner is served,” he says. “Some believe that simply pulling the cork on a bottle is enough, but with the limited amount of wine-surface to air, a decanter can be your best friend.”
DIY Decanting at home
If you don’t have a decanter, a juice pitcher will work just as well. You can also look into using smaller decanting tools such as a decanting pour spout or a table top decanter that you pour the wine through and into the glass. These achieve similar effects by allowing the wine to swirl and breathe before even hitting the glass. There is a type of glass on the market now that has an aerator directly in the middle of the glass that you pour your wine into and (if you have good aim) will get your wine opened nicely.
Decanting Young Bottles
If you have a young wine that has a high level of tannins such as Cabernet and Merlot, Mark recommends decanting for at least 30-45 minutes before it starts giving you it’s best. In some cases, young bottles can benefit from a bit longer in the decanter (an hour or two). You can also decant on a smaller level with a Pinot Noir glass that has plenty of room and capacity to accommodate a good swirl.
Decanting Mature Bottles
Around thirty minutes is plenty of time for a mature bottle to open up; any longer could compromise its integrity. When working with an older bottle or one you know has a fair amount of sediment, it is crucial to try to keep any sediment undisturbed while removing the cork. This can be done with a steady hand or with the help of a decanting basket.
After removing the cork it is key to wipe out any sediment that has accumulated in the neck of the bottle where the cork was. Before you get to pouring, Mark says a light source should be placed behind the bottle so you can eye the neck of the bottle for sediment. A flashlight or a candle would be sufficient. Stop as soon as you see any small particles or the wine becoming cloudy in the neck. It is common for there to be an ounce or two left in the bottle.
If you have more questions about decanting or any other wine recommendations, ask for Mark next time you come to Bentley’s Grill and he will be happy to help you. Till then, Cheers!