How Long To Decant Wine?

Many people find themselves wondering how long to decant wine. Decanting wine is recommended by very sommelier that I know, and can help remove sediment from the bottom of a bottle and aerate the red wine, making it more flavorful. 

This article will explore different methods for decanting wine as well as provide some guidelines on how long to leave your wines open so they are at their best!

How Long To Decant Wine?

Decanting wine can be done in a few different ways. Here are the most popular methods:

  • Pouring it all into one container and letting it sit for an hour or two
  • Slowly pouring from higher to lower levels, such as through a funnel that is sitting on top of another bowl
  • Stirring

How Long Should Red Wine Breathe In A Decanter?

There’s no single answer, it really depends on the wine. Be sure to review my pinot noir vs merlot article for more information on those great wines. If you are looking for juicy, ripe fruit on the palate and a rounder texture in your red wines, then letting it sit for around 20 minutes is recommended. Light bodied red wines benefit from decanting as much as older red wines.

 But if you want more tannin and structure with a greater concentration of flavor, then 30 to 40 minutes may be better.

Red wine being poured from a decanter.
Red wine being poured from a decanter.

How Long Can Wine Sit in the Decanter?

The wine can only be in the decanter for an hour to two hours at most. Beyond that, it starts to lose some of its characters and begins oxidizing.

Why Is Decanting Important?

Decanting wine is important for wine aeration, dissolving some of the sediment that can build up on the bottom over time and sediments that are in suspension.

Which Wines Should Be Decanted?

The wines that should be decanted are the ones with a lot of sediment.

How To Tell If Your Wine Is Ready?

If the wine is ready, it will have a clear layer of sediment at the bottom and be less cloudy than before.

Before Decanting, Consider The Wine’s Age

Before decanting wine, one must consider the age of the wine. Younger red wines will be ready quicker than a more aged Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

Wines are usually recommended to stay in their bottles for at least 24 hours before they’re opened and consumed so that all their flavors can mix together properly this is called “breathing.” 

This rule also applies when you pour your wines into a decanter, but it’s important to note that there might not be as much room for breathing if it is inside an enclosed space such as a glass carafe. 

In order to avoid spoiling your drink, some experts say 40 minutes may be better between opening the bottle and pouring it into the decanter.

Can You Leave Wine In A Decanter Overnight?

You can definitely wait for wines to decant, but it’s not a necessity. For a wine to reach its full potential and flavor profile, most experts recommend decanting wine for at least 24 hours before drinking or serving this allows the flavors of red wines (especially) time to meld in the bottle. 

The same rule applies when you pour your wines into a decanter. however, some people say that 40 minutes may be better between opening the bottle and pouring it into the carafe so as to avoid spoiling their drink. 

There are also those who prefer an hour or less waiting period because they argue that taste changes only slightly from one hour on while others maintain that without adequate breathing time faults can develop which disrupt the balance in flavor profiles.

How Long Should You Let Red Wine Air?

Red wine needs to breathe prior to drinking. When you open a bottle of red wine, pour it into a decanter and let it sit for about an hour before serving.

Can You Decant Two Bottles Of Wine Together?

No. It is best to decant each bottle separately and then serve the wine in order of age, with the youngest poured first. 

However, there are some experts who say that you can pour both bottles into a single decanter together if they have almost identical levels of tannin (the substance which leaves an astringent taste.)

How Long To Decant Pinot Noir?

Pinot Noir needs a minimum of 15 minutes to allow its tannins time to soften.

How Long To Decant Chianti?

Chianti requires at least one hour of decanting time.

Decant wine to soften the taste and improve aroma.

What To Do With Leftover Decanted Wine?

It is best to store the leftover wine in a clean, airtight container and serve at another time.

Can You Remove Histamines From Wine?

No. Histamines are a natural part of wine that cannot be removed by decanting.

When I Decant Wine, Should I Shake The Decanter?

Don’t shake the decanter. The sediment will settle to the bottom which is what you want.

Does A Wine Decanter Need A Stopper?

You do not need a wine stopper for your wine decanter.

How To Fix Oxidized Wine?

Oxidation can be fixed by decanting the wine into a clean, airtight container and recorking.


To summarize, decant your wine for between one and four hours.

Remember to not shake the decanter or you will add air into your wine which is bad for aging wines.

Carlos Flood

Hello, I'm Carlos Flood. I am a wine writer and the wine editor for The Wine Enthusiast Magazine. I have been writing about wine since 2008, but my love affair with all things grape started much earlier: when I was barely old enough to pick up a glass of vino at family dinners. As a food and drink journalist, my goal is simple: to help people know more about what they are drinking by providing them with information that will inform their decisions.

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