Category Archives: Holidays

When to use a decanter

Poor decanters. Most of them sit on a lonely shelf, looking pretty, gathering dust, its owners occasionally looking at the empty container wondering, when am I supposed to use that thing, anyway? The answer? Often! You don’t need a 30-year-old wine full of sediment to use and enjoy a decanter. Even if you are drinking something as simple and youthful as Two Buck Chuck, a decanter sure does make it look nicer on the tadecanterble!

There are two main purposes of a decanter:

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    1. 1. To remove sediment from a wine
    2. 2. To aerate a wine

For the first, as a wine ages, it can throw a sediment, which collects at the bottom of the bottle. The decanter allows one to remove the wine from its sediment by slowly pouring the liquid into the decanter, keeping the sediment in the bottle.

How is this done? First, a day before you plan to drink an older bottle, gently stand it upright (it should be lying on its side in the cellar) and let it stand for a day. This way the sediment will slowly fall to the bottom of the bottle. Then, open the bottle and carefully and slowly pour the wine into the decanter. Towards the end, you will want to carefully watch and stop pouring once you get to the sediment. In formal restaurants, sommeliers use a candle under the bottle to help see the sediment. For your purposes, I’m sure any good lighting will do. Some older wines should be drunk right away while others benefit with some more cellar time.

You will most likely have many more opportunities to utilize a decanter for the second purpose – aerating a young wine. We are often eager to drink a wine right away, even when it is very young. To help it loosen up a bit, you need to let the wine breathe. Opening the wine does not qualify – that one inch diameter of wine that sees air thorough the bottle neck doesn’t do much ! Pouring the wine into a decanter allows much more of the wine’s surface area to see air, opening up a young, tight wine. The air helps the aromas and flavors open up, allowing you to enjoy more of the wine. This is the way to enjoy a young Bordeaux or California Cabernet – or any big wine for that matter.

So take the decanter off the shelf, and use it. It will enhance your wine drinking experience and always look pretty on the table.

Also, remember that a beautiful decanter makes a great gift for the wine lover – either to use, or just look pretty on the shelf.

Party Tricks You Need to Know

My rule in the kitchen? Stay ahead of the mess. It is also is a good way to go through life in general and certainly a way to keep your head above water at parties. A few tips on how to stay ahead of the chaos when it comes to holiday parties.

Bathtub ice bucket – if you have a lot of wine (bubbly, whites) to chill but no good ice bucket, use your bathtub! Throw in a few bags of ice and some water and you have a built in ice bucket. Just try to use a bathroom that is not also for the guests!

Screw cap wines or pre-open the bottles – There are three people looking for wine to pour and only empty bottles and no one can find the wine key. This is when I love screw cap wines. No wasting time looking for a corkscrew or cutting yourself on foil while you hastily open the bottle. If you do have cork-finished wines, open a good amount of them before the party so that all you have to do is pull out the cork and pour. There should never be a line for wine.

Wash your glassware in the morning – Perhaps this goes against the “stay ahead of the mess” rule, but to preserve more stems and break less bowls, wait till you have a clear head and lots of patience and room to wash those glasses. Feel free to rinse them that evening, but when it comes to the good wash, save them all for morning. I promise you less casualties.

How much wine do you need for a party?

The rule of thumb when serving wine is to have a half bottle per person. But that can certainly vary depending on a few variables.

You will want ¾ a bottle or a full bottle per person if:

– Wine is the only alcoholic beverage being served

– The party/gathering is over three hours

– Your friends are big drinkers! Don’t want to run out with a crowd like that…

You can account for less if:

– There are multiple types of alcoholic beverages being served

– You are sure of your guests’ preferences and some of them are not for wine.

The cardinal rule is not to run out, so best buy more, not less, and buy what you like so that if you are stuck with leftovers, you’ll enjoy drinking them through the holidays!