Breathing experiment no 8: a win for decanting

I thought I was pretty well done with breathing experiments, but I realized there were some gaps, such as classified growth Bordeaux. So I pulled this bottle from my cellar and ran the usual protocol, just Amy and me. Amy guessed the odd wine out correctly, and I did not. My notes:

Funky note on 2, fruit clearer on 1, dbd

Which means I thought glass 2 was from the bottle, and glasses 1 and 3 were from the decanter. I was right about glasses 1 and 2, but wrong about glass 3, which was also from the bottle. I had in fact hesitated over glass 3, but went with my first impression, which failed me this time.

But notice the distinction between glasses 1 and 2. I found the decanted glass had better fruit aromas, whereas in the glass from the bottle the fruit was obscured by a funky note. This has happened twice before, once for a burgundy and once for a cru bourgeois Bordeaux. In all three cases the fruit aromas were more prominent after decanting. In this case I also detected a better fruit flavor on the palate, which I would attribute to retronasal sensing of the better aroma.

In the case of the burgundy, I quite liked the initial savory note; it’s something I appreciate in a red burgundy and I wouldn’t want to lose it to air.

For the Bordeaux, on the other hand, I preferred the decanted wine in both cases. This may call for more experiments with Bordeaux, in particular finding out what the shortest effective decanting period is. In this case the wine was in the decanter for 5 hours before the experiment. And I should extend the experiment to new world Bordeaux blends as well.

As with the other experiments, I did not sense any difference in the acids or tannins on the palate, and, as always, the differences were slight, not the sort of thing you would detect without focused attention.


3 thoughts on “Breathing experiment no 8: a win for decanting

  1. Seems like this wine off-gassed some volatile funk that obscured the fruit. Such off-gassing used to be more important before modern precisions in winemaking, they say.

    Try decanting and breathing experiment with non-wine beverages including tap water (control temp). I found a difference. … probably chlorine x air x time. Try with natural juices (not preserved). Try with scotch or bourbon. Try with iced tea.


  2. Well, yeah, this was pretty much my theory about breathing to begin with, but, you know, science. And I wouldn’t exactly call it volatile funk in the case of the Bordeaux, although I agree with the unmasking theory.

    Will report back on the water and/or gin.


  3. Pingback: Breathing experiment no. 9: short decant | Wine Experiments

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