decanting wine etiquette

Decanting Wine: 7 Etiquette Basics For Decanting And Serving

who this class is for

Restaurant guests, waiters and restaurant staff

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About this micro-class

Decanting wine is a tradition that enhances the flavors and aromas and it’s an integral part of the dining experience.

Etiquette Rules for Decanting Wine

1. Select the Right Wine

Not all wines benefit from decanting.

Generally, older red wines with sediment and bold young red wines benefit the most.

Whites and delicate reds usually don’t require decanting and are served directly from the bottle.

2. Tools of the Trade


Select a clean, clear decanter with a wide base to allow proper aeration. Ensure that it’s odor-free.

Crystal decanters are preferred, as they do not retain smells and showcase the wine beautifully.

Candle or Light Source

A light source helps you see the sediment while pouring.

3. Preparation

Stand the Bottle Upright

Sediment is common in aged red wines. Before opening the bottle, allow it to stand upright for a few hours to let any sediment settle at the bottom.

Inspect the Bottle

Check the bottle for sediment. If present, handle the bottle gently to avoid stirring it up.

4. Presentation

Approach the Table with Confidence

Present the bottle to the guest for inspection.

Hold the bottle with the label facing the guest and mention the vintage. This allows them to confirm the selection and adds a personal touch to the experience.

Introduce the Wine

Share a brief description and mention the decision to decant for its optimal enjoyment, emphasizing the enhancement of flavors and aromas.

5. Decanting Process

Open the Bottle

Open the bottle with precision and without disturbing any sediment. Use a corkscrew.

Ensure minimal contact between the cork and the wine and that the cork remains intact.

Wipe the Bottle Neck

Before pouring, discreetly wipe the bottle neck with a clean cloth to remove any dust or residue.

Position the Light Source

If you are using a light source, place it on the table and position it in a way that illuminates the bottle neck.

Pouring with a Steady Hand

Begin pouring slowly and steadily into the decanter, keeping an eye on the light to identify sediment.

Hold the decanter against a white napkin or cloth to easily spot any sediment during pouring.

Tilt the bottle slightly to avoid splashing.

Stop Before Sediment

When you see sediment nearing the neck, stop pouring. It’s better to leave a small amount of wine in the bottle than to transfer sediment into the decanter.

6. Serving Option #1: Presenting the Decanter

Hold the Decanter Properly

Present the decanter on a tray or in your hand. Present it to the guests and inform them of the wine’s vintage.

Pour a small amount into the host’s glass for approval before pouring for the entire table.

Serve with Grace

Pour the wine gently into the guest’s glass, avoiding any drips on the rim. Don’t let the decanter touch the guest’s glass.

When handling the decanter, do so with grace and poise. A steady hand and controlled movements showcase professionalism.

7. Serving Option #2: Returning the Wine to the Bottle:

Dispose of the Sediment

If sediment is left in the bottle, discreetly discard it in the service area, away from the guests.

Cap the Bottle

Recap the bottle, and if appropriate, present it to the guest for approval before storing it.

Wipe the Bottle

Use a cloth to ensure the bottle is dry and clean before placing it back in the wine bucket or on the table.

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