Wine & Wine Equipment Expert / Founder at Kosmonaut
Daniel has always been a wine enthusiast, ever since being a student at Cornell. Following his BBA in Business, he attended The Culinary Institute of America, to study a Masters in Wine and Beverage Management, where he further expanded his expertise in all things relating to wine and wine equipment.
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Have you ever needed to decant wine without a decanter? Were you able to maneuver your way around without a decanter or did you get stuck? While a decanter is ideal for decanting wine, especially during formal occasions or as a bartender, you may need to do without it sometimes. In such instances, you have to use your creativity to help you decant a bottle of wine without a decanter.
If you still wonder if it’s possible, the answer is a resounding yes; you can decant your wine without using a decanter. If you are a bartender or you own a bar cart and find yourself in such a situation, there are a few things you can do. We’ve listed some of these options below.
What Is Decanting?
Before finding out how to decant wine without a decanter, you need to know what decanting is. Is it necessary for your enjoyment of wine? When do you need to decant? Is decanting applicable to all wines?
Decanting is separating wine from the sediments that might be present in the wine bottle. Also, wine bottles are corked and left to age to improve the taste. The sealing or corking, however, means that the wine is without oxygen for a long time. Decanting is what most wine lovers commonly refer to as ‘letting their wine breathe’. It exposes the wine to oxygen and brings out the flavors that were bottled up for so long.
There is no hard rule on when to decant or which wines you should decant. It all depends on your preference.
What to Use if You Don’t Have a Decanter
Mixologists know all too well how essential decanters are to the success of their business. However, sometimes you can’t just lay your hands on a decanter to help you out and will need to improvise.
One way you could decant your wine without a decanter is to leverage an aerator. You could either use an electric or manual wine aerator in place of a decanter. Interestingly, you can also find an aerating wine glass with several advantages.
Firstly, an aerator wine glass eliminates the need to wash a separate aerator. This aerating wine glass saves you a lot of time and stress, especially if you have many people coming in and you need to serve them fast. Another good feature of aerating wine is that it considerably reduces your decanting time. Furthermore, the aerator displays the character of your wine including taste, spice and flavors. We will consider other options you could use without a decanter.
Fake decanting does not need you to spend money on decanters, yet also efficiently decants your wine. You can pull off some fake decanting techniques with the following items:
You can use a vase for fake decanting. Ensure that it has a wide mouth. Additionally, ensure that the vase can hold at least 20 ounces of wine before you use it. It is even better if the vase can hold more than 20 ounces of wine.
Also, the neck of your vase should be wide enough so you can effectively swirl your wine. Swirling the wine in your vase hastens the aeration process. It would be best to pour the wine between two vases a few times over and allow it to sit on a counter for a while.
Serve the wine in the more presentable vase after decanting. Furthermore, clean your vase thoroughly once you are done.
One might argue that a glass jug and a vase are quite similar. However, these two are not the same and have their individual uses.
You must find a glass jug with a wide mouth and generous carrying capacity. Furthermore, you will need to find a bowl that can hold your decanted wine. It is even a plus if you end up finding an eccentric style that gives off that decanter vibe. It is best to use a handled jug because it allows for swirling while decanting. Always go for the jug with a wider mouth. This will diminish the time spent aerating your wine. Once you have decanted, you can allow the jug with the wine to sit for a few minutes before serving.
A steamed or eccentric fishbowl could potentially decant your wine if you do it right. Though it seems like an unconventional option, it gets the job done. Additionally, using a fish bowl to decant is one fun experience you do not want to miss. Remember that a fish bowl has a wider mouth, so you might want a smaller container when pouring your wine out.
Ensure that you find a smaller bowl that can hold at least 16 ounces or 500 ml of your wine. Such a bowl holds a generous amount of your wine without necessarily sacrificing your style in the process. Let the bowl sit on the counter while decanting. You can always stir your decanted wine with a long swizzle stick to allow for better aeration.
If you don’t want your guests to know you used fake decanting, pour the wine back into the bottle. This method of hiding what you used to decant while pouring into the bottle is called double decanting. There are some items you could leverage for your double-decanting experience. These include:
A good double-decanting method is using a mason jar. You can leverage a one-liter jar or a smaller one to help you decant your wine. Although using one jar is quite slow, you can use several jars to decant. The mason jar might not come off as an ideal method for most mixologists, but it gets the job done.
Large Wine Glass
A large wine glass is another feasible option. A large wine glass can hold up to one bottle of wine and may come in handy when trying to decant your wine. Wine connoisseurs who find themselves in tight corners usually use large wine glasses to decant their wine.
You can decant your wine with a large wine glass by pouring it back and forth (called rolling). Once you roll about 10 to 15 times, you can rest assured that your wine has received enough air to breathe. After, you can pour it back into its wine bottle. Your wine bottle should be free from any sediments so that your decanted wine is left uncorrupted.
A blender does a good job of double decanting too. Wine connoisseurs refer to blending wine as hyperdecanting. However, some sommeliers say hyperdecanting is not the way to go when trying to aerate your wine.
Some sommeliers believe that blending destroys your wine’s delicate flavor and aroma. Consequently, your wine will be worse off than it was before you blended. For the best results, set your blender to 10 seconds. After blending, you must allow your wine to settle before pouring it into the wine bottle.
If any of the items mentioned above are out of reach, use your water bottle. Slowly roll your wine to allow some air to come in contact with the wine without causing bubbles.
How to Determine if Your Wine Is Ready
Being able to successfully aerate wine does not mean you are equipped to tell when the wine is ready. Most times, people find it challenging to aerate wine without decanters. Spending time to roll your wine while stirring or letting it sit on a counter does not guarantee that it will aerate properly.
You need to sniff your wine by sticking your nose near the container’s opening. If you can perceive the aromas of fruits, flowers, or spices, then your wine has decanted. If you don’t trust your nose, take a sip. Additionally, the taste is usually smoother after a complete decanting process.
Keep an undecanted sample on the side. Compare the decanted wine with that sample to judge how successful your decanting was. Especially if you are a newbie in the decanting process. About 30 minutes is enough time for red wine to sit on the counter while using a fake or makeshift decanter.
There are many ways to decant a wine without using an ideal decanter. We have looked at some of these methods and how you can decant your wine professionally without using a real decanter. Mostly, anything readily available in your kitchen could help you achieve this. We hope the methods discussed will come in handy the next time you have to drink wine with your friends.