As a prelude to a summary of the results of The Great Decanting Experiment I thought it might be prudent to review the only book I can find that, at least according to it’s title, is devoted to the decanting of wine.
Written by Sandra Jordan, of Jordan Vineyard and Winery, The Art of Decanting: Bringing wine to life is an extremely well presented volume. Chapters cover everything from the historical aspects of wine storage, to corkscrews, wine glasses, wine appreciation, and even a menu for a dinner to show off your ability to decant your favorite wines. The images, although a little too close to commercial photography, are nonetheless eye catching. I found myself impatiently reading the text just to get to the next page to see what other images of wine glasses, corkscrews and additional accoutrements of wine tasting might be found there. Its no coincidence that the title includes the word art, nor is it coincidence that a number of the photographs are less than subtle in their advertising of Jordan wines.
Yes, this is one of those books that you do read for the pictures! And that is a problem because there is precious little examination of why wines should be decanted and what happens when wines are decanted. There is simply no support provided for dogmatic statements such as “ In truth, the beneficial influence of air upon young reds may be the closest thing to certainty in the world of decanting. In all other matters – particularly in those pertaining to treasured library wines – the experts continue to engage in fierce debate and friendly disagreement.” Or “ For a young wine(a red one to five years old), however, consider decanting one to three hours before your dinner to allow more oxygen to reach the wine, unleash the flavors, and smooth out the texture. In short, some patience, and a good decanter can improve the flavor and bouquet of a rough young red immeasurably.”
But is all this exposure to air a good thing? The wonders that oxygen will bring to a young wine are seemingly fraught with danger for we are told that in decanting a wine it should not be allowed to splash into the decanter lest it “tire”. And please don’t “shake the decanter to more fully aerate the wine – a controversial move, to put it mildly” as Hugh Johnson, if he is present, is likely to faint.
No, this is not a book for those looking for knowledge on the benefits (or otherwise) that aeration will bring to wine. It is chock full of the art of decanting, thou.
The Art of Decanting: Bringing Wine to Life (Hardcover) by Sandra Jordan with Lindsey Lee Johnson. 132 pages, Publisher: Chronicle Books (Oct. 1, 2006). $12.71USD.