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To Decant Or Not To Decant Red Wine…And For How Long?

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To Decant Or Not To Decant Red Wine…And For How Long?

Do you notice when you open a bottle of red wine and pour a glass, the wine gets better over time, especially the second glass (not a trick question!)? You start to notice the wine smells better, the fruit flavors become pronounced and the tannins are softer? That’s because the wine has “opened up” due to the increased contact with the air. Decanting introduces oxygen, which releases aromas and flavors in all red wine.

So how long should you decant wine?

Most tannic red wines will take about 2-3 hours and typically last 12–18 hours after being decanted.

Red Wines

  • · Zinfandel: 30 minutes
  • · Pinot Noir: 30 minutes
  • · Malbec: 1 hour
  • · Grenache Blend: 1 hour
  • · Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot: 2 hours
  • · Petite Sirah: 2 hours
  • · Tempranillo: 2 hours
  • · Sangiovese: 2 hours
  • · Syrah/Shiraz: 2–3 hours
  • · Nebbiolo: 3+ hours


Chances are you probably dropped some serious dough for an 20+ year old, dry, bottle of red wine. These types of  wines show best decanted immediately before serving. If you wait to long, all the amazing aromas and flavors would have disappeared!

What happens if you decant a wine for too long?

High levels of acetic acid (the same acid found in vinegar) increases and a repugnant, vinegar-like smell then emerges, which is a very good indicator that the wine has gone bad.

Trick of the trade: You don’t need to spend top dollar on your house party wines. Decant the cheap bottles of red before your guests come over, we promise you they will taste double the price you paid!  



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