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Ep 21 TNWG Wine Times: 'To Decant Or Not To Decant?' That is the question!



There have been many questions raised of late on whether you should decant a wine before serving and indeed which wines need to be decanted and which do not....


So as ever, I will try to unwind some of those and give my thoughts on that below.


Why Do We Decant Wine?


Ultimately, the main goal of decanting a wine is to separate the sediment from the liquid inside the bottle. This is much more prominently true in red wines that often 'throw sediment'. Firstly though, it should be pointed out that the sediment is not harmful, it is harmless. It is merely the small pieces of grape matter with dead yeast cells which have formulated to create solids.


It is maybe a reminder to us all that wine is a natural product and with typically aged red wines, that are not filtered, a sediment appears in the bottom of the bottle. It is also found in the more recent trend with natural wines, where the least amount of human intervention is used for winemaking and therefore sediment is also found. 


The other main reason for decanting wine is to aerate the wine. A common misconception is that when you take the cork or screw top off your bottle of wine, that you are 'opening up the wine and breathing a little' by leaving it for a while. The truth is, it does very little to the wine because the only part of the wine that is touching increased oxygen is the top of it. 


The best thing to do to aerate a wine and therefore enhance the aroma and flavour profiles a wine is to decant it so that a larger portion of the wine in the bottle is being oxygenated. 


Do We All Need To Buy A Decanter?


No. Nonsense. In which other part of the kitchen or dining room or in fact any room in the house do you typically buy an implement that is used a handful of times in a decade? Then why do this with wine?


If you didn't see my rather tongue in cheek video on Instagram the other day then I have added a link here for you to view.


The rationale behind the decanting of the wine is not to showcase that you need a clean Pyrex jug all the time when decanting a wine, it is merely showing you that ultimately you just need to move the liquid to another vessel to start to oxygenate the wine more fully. In this instance I poured the whole bottle of wine into the Pyrex jug and then poured it back into the bottle again shortly before serving. I have also seen many suggest if you do not have any other vessels other than an empty wine bottle ready to go to recycling (like in my house most days!), then making sure the bottle is cleaned out, pour it into the empty bottle and then back into the original again - another 'hack'.


So You Don't Use A Decanter?


Ha! Ok you have got me there. I do have a decanter, in fact I have a handful of them and mostly because they have been given as presents from various friends and family because of my love of wine. Do I use them? In truth, only really when we have guests or it's a very special occasion.


So You Don't Decant Wines or Aerate Them?


Ah I didn't say that. This is a different question. I do decant wines, but just not always with a decanter and I do aerate them too but using available tools to do so. It also depends on the wine too. If we are talking about an everyday lovely Californian Chardonnay that has been bought and resides in my fridge (albeit then 10-15mins outside the fridge before drinking for the right temperature control) then I am unlikely to decant it.


If I am looking at a young red wine then potentially it is still quite robust, the tannins are still likely to be quite grippy and so I tend to decant them because they need a little softening with aeration and oxygenating those lovely aroma and flavour profiles (potentially altering those phenolics in the wine). In fact, I would go as far to say, MOST young red wines need some aeration - especially the everyday reds that you buy off the shelves in certain grocery establishments. Fear not though, there are ways in which you can do this with tools like the one below:




This is my go to tool of choice for a little bit of aeration from the bottle before it hits the glass. It takes time and bounces around in the aeration tool which then opens those wonderful aroma profiles up before hitting the glass.


So White Wines Do Not Need To Be Decanted?


Ah well, that is also a bit of a tricky one. 'Protective winemaking' is something which you may hear the occasional winemaker talk about when discussing their wines. Ultimately, a winemaker is looking to protect the flavour and aroma profiles within the wine and one of the ways in which you can do that is use SO2 to reduce oxygen exposure. However, on occasion you may have opened a bottle of white wine and smelt something a touch sulphur orientated - reductive - it is known as. It reduces any pronounced aromas to come from the bottle and this is a time when you should look to decant or aerate a white wine, just so that it spends a little time oxygenating. 


Conclusion


Ultimately, as with a lot of things in wine, it is personal preference as to whether you wish to decant a bottle of wine and there is no right or wrong answer too. If your palate detects that a wine is too acidic or too 'grippy' with tannins or lacking in depth of aroma or flavour because it maybe a little reductive - then go for it! 


An old aged red wine is likely to throw sediment as it has been accumulating those molecules over time and has built up sediment solids within the bottle. However, do not decant an old wine too long before drinking it, you don't want it to get 'too oxygenated' and lose some of it's sparkle (30mins is a good time frame). Just like a young wine maybe a little too tight with tannins and needs softening - so oxygenate it with a decanter but most of all, do not panic if you can't find that decanter in the house, there are so many other ways to aerate and decant a wine!



🍷 UNUSUAL WINE OF THE WEEK 🍷




Orokseg 'Heritage' Bikaver, Takler 2018


This is a pretty fun wine in truth! I picked it out because I loved the back drop of having som many grape varietals, both well known and local indigenous in a glass. I was expecting it to be pretty heavy in truth but I was wrong. 


This is fresh, fragrant, ironically named 'Bikaver' meaning bika = bull and ver = blood from the amazing Takler winery in Szekszard in Hungary, which is south west of Budapest. From predominantly Kekfrankos grape varietal, it is filled with redcurrants and spices whilst also bouncing with a juicy refreshing palate. The blend incorporates Kekfrankos, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Kadarka and Cabernet Sauvignon with an ABV 14% and still is vibrant! Try it to believe it.



🗞️ LATEST DRINKS INDUSTRY ARTICLES 🗞️


TOP ARTICLE OF THE WEEK


Great news for those interested in the fine wine investment industry. Having had a prolonged and weak 2023, there are signs that the market is look to stabilise at these levels. For the month of March the Liv-Ex 100 rose 0.4% the first time it was in positive territory in the last 12 months.


OTHER ARTICLES THAT CAUGHT MY EYE THIS WEEK



📈 MARKETS IN BRIEF 📉


On the week (as at 11th April 12:00 LDN) changes:

EQUITIES: ⬇️ FTSE 100 down 0.04%; ⬇️ DAX down 2.1%; ⬇️S&P 500 down 1.8%; ⬆️ Nikkei 225 up 0.5%; ⬇️ Dow Jones down 1.7%;

COMMODITIES: ⬆️ Brent Oil up 0.6% ; ⬆️ Crude Oil up 0.2% ; ⬆️ Gold up 2%; ⬆️ Silver up 3.8%; ⬆️ Copper up 1.3%

BONDS (in yield terms): ⬆️ UK 2yrs higher 0.136%; ⬆️ UK 10yrs higher 0.092%; ⬆️ German 10yrs higher 0.069%, ⬆️ US 2yrs higher 0.276%; ⬆️ US 10yrs higher 0.184%;


The US market is still driving global positioning and rates more generally as US CPI this week came in hotter than expected. The result saw US Treasuries sell off as investors looked to back away from the three cuts priced in as a base case scenario till the end of the year. A strong labour force, increased inflation and data beating expectations is doing little to calm fears that interest rates will be cut by Powell and co ahead of what is a US Election year. 


📈INVESTMENT SPECIAL - NEW FINANCIAL YEAR 24/25 📈


As a result of US data as mentioned above and a strong US backdrop for their economy at present I am still keen to hold and be overweight US blue chip and S&P large stocks via outright stocks and also in underlying funds based specifically on sectors. Continue to be long US top tiered equities.


In the UK, there is an expectation that the BOE will be the first developed market central bank to cut rates, and this looks to be as easy as June. In light of this, UK stocks are likely to benefit from lower rates so I am happy to hold exposure in UK equities. That being said, what I do like to also hold is UK Gilts. With the new ISA allowance for the 24-25 financial year beginning, allowing each UK resident £20k to utilise with tax free implications, it is time to allocate funds into a chosen ISA. As it stands that is just shy of 5% for a 1 year fixed cash ISA. So £16k parked in that and £4k placed in a LISA (Lifetime ISA) which will be a Stocks and Shares LISA for myself. This gives me the potential to increase my gains on that £4k and also receive the government £1k kick back, taking it to £5k to invest.


Once done, take a look at the pension. Do you want to place anymore funds in the pension and do you have any capacity that was not fulfilled last year? I do but won't currently be looking to add more to my pension. Instead, I am looking at UK Government Bonds (Gilts). The current rules investing in Gilts are that you do not have to pay tax on capital gains, so as the bond matures at par (100) on maturity, you naturally gain money if bought below 100 price mark. You only pay tax on the interest received from the coupon. So in essence, I am targeting short dated UK gilts which have a low coupon so as not to pay out too much interest but that are low priced. Then calculate the percentage yield that is in returns vs a savings account where you need to pay tax on gains. Hence, long UK Short Dated Gilts.


I'm also a fan of UK Gilts not just because of the capital exemption but also because if the expectation of the UK cutting comes to fruition, you would expect bonds to track lower in yield / higher in price, crystallising some of that price gain if done prior to the cuts. It also makes me think that from a convexity perspective, buying low priced long dated gilts is also not a bad ploy for the LISA, and therefore there is a play too. Long long dated Gilts in a long dated portfolio.


Gold and Silver (and to a certain extent Copper too) have had a very good run of late but seem to be backed by Central Bank investment too, which now stands at around 16% of total holdings globally, not seen since the 1970s. With that in mind, I am still happy to hold longs in Gold and Silver. Adding from here, maybe not though if you are not long already.


Fine Wine is on the uptick finally. It has been a bleak 2023, with a lot of underperformance, however, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The Liv-ex 100 has seen growth in the month of March for the first time in 12 months. My positioning is obviously quite long this asset, but I am on hold currently seeking further confirmation later in the year as interest rates come down, that growth will be stimulated in the market.


Property in the UK has been topsy turvy to say the least. For me it is time to 'derisk' a little and so property is the natural one to go. I have been selling property for some time now (it is taking forever and also chains make the process incredibly challenging), however the property market has held its own despite a technical recession in the UK. In fact on the year, there have been upticks of growth and regional wise, there are peaks of growth just as the temperatures begin to rise. Happy to derisk here for my personal investment situation but also would not be overly concerned currently on holding property, although we are still at elevated levels in the market.


I am keeping an eye this quarter on oil prices - there could be a play on benefits of an oil price squeeze to around the $100 a barrel level, it could also determine how quickly or not we see further follow through in global inflation and therefore forward interest rate paths. Additionally, I am looking at spreading some alternative asset interest in the more longer term whisky potential as well as good EIS scheme orientated businesses who are looking to crowd fund, which also obviously has advantageous tax implications too. I will also keep an eye too on any further announcements on the British ISA.


(As ever, these are my own thoughts and not something that you should take as investment advice. For all investment advice please seek an IFA specialist to look at your own personal circumstances.)


📢📢 ANNOUNCEMENTS 📢📢


🎙️The Northern Wine Guy Podcast Show revealed another wonderful guest on the show this week, Jane Anson . It was a pleasure to hear from Jane who I consider to be the 'Voice of Bordeaux'. A great episode and very interesting to understand how she developed her career to such an elevated level that it is now where she is at the very forefront of Bordeaux wines. 


🎙️The second podcast show, The Andy and Olly Show, will be speaking to (Thursday evening, available Friday onwards) this week Domaine Jones, a wonderful wine producer, focusing on old vines. Katie's story of taking over the vineyard in the Languedoc back in 2008 is inspirational and something that should not be missed.


If you haven't listened already then feel free to head to the link above or find us on all podcast apps.


🍷 For those in Sheffield, don't forget one for your diaries, get booking your tickets now for the 'Pinks, Whites and Reds for Spring' Wine Tasting Event being held on Saturday 11th May 2pm till 4pm - tickets are first come first served at £25pp.


That is all from me this week, thanks for reading. As always - comments, DMs, thoughts or questions on all things wine related give me a shout and for those who want to see more, give me a follow on Instagram


Cheers!

Andy

A.k.a. The Northern Wine Guy

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