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Double Decanting

April 8, 2011
Question by: Pedro, Portugal


What is double decanting? When is it appropriate to double decant a vintage port?


To double decant a Vintage Port, you would first decant as usual into a clean decanter (see detailed guidelines in our article Decanting Vintage Port, under the Enjoying Port menu tab). Next, carefully rinse out the original bottle to remove any remaining sediment, and be sure to drain off any excess water from the bottle. Then, carefully transfer the wine from the decanter back into the original bottle.

There are two good reasons to double decant: the first is simply for presentation: you wish to serve the wine at table from the original bottle so your guests can see the label - always a conversation starter, especially with an older or more unusual wines.

The second reason would be if, having decanted once, you approach serving time and on tasting the wine feel it is still a bit closed. In this case you may wish to decant a second time, whether into another decanter or the cleaned out original bottle, to help to open up the wine a bit further. For some younger ports, this may be helpful. Don't forget, however, that a big part of the pleasure of port is savouring how the wine opens up and develops in your glass over the course of the evening. If you are serving the port at a formal tasting when your guests may have a limited time to appreciate the wine, then double decanting can help to present the port fully open when served, but for more relaxed occasions, this shouldn't be necessary - or perhaps double decant half the bottle, and compare two glasses, as a way of learning more about your Vintage Port.

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