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Decanting Vintage Port – Top Tips!

Philippe Boucheron - ETM Wine writer

Philippe Boucheron - ETM Wine writer

Decanting Vintage Port, or very old red wines that might have thrown a ‘deposit’, is a skill to learn explains our wine expert Philippe Boucheron.

Fine vintage Ports are aged in the bottle and tend to throw a great deal of deposit (build up at the bottom of certain wines –  This is made up from the solids – mainly minuscule bits of grape skin that give the wine its colour.)

Gently take the bottle up from its rack and place it standing up on end in the dining room 36 hours before you want to open it.   This will encourage most of the solids to drop to the bottom.

Decanting Port is an art
.  If it is a very old bottle its cork will be protected by sealing wax that has to be removed by gently tapping with a light hammer.  The cork will be fragile, so use your corkscrew with great care and very gently remove it.  Now you will need a spotlessly clean and dry decanter, and preferably a decanting funnel and a candle or small, bright pocket torch.  If you haven’t got a decanting funnel any kitchen funnel will do – as long as it is spotlessly clean and free from any taint.   If you have any coffee filters handy, then place one in the funnel.

Hold the bottle in one hand, and the decanter in the other, both at around angles of around 45º.  Now, very gently pour the wine into the funnel placed in the top of the decanter, with the candle or torch placed so that it shines up into the neck of the bottle.  Keep an eagle eye on the neck and stop pouring as soon as any deposit starts to appear.  What’s left in the bottle can be stored in the fridge for adding to meat juices to make proper gravy (in place of gravy powders) or adding to stews and even home made meat soups.

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