Decanting is a way of enjoying the colour of the wine to the full. It also activates two taste levers: it separates the wine from any deposits in the bottle, keeping it perfectly limpid; and it fosters the oxygenation of the wine by increasing the surface of liquid in contact with the air. Oxygenation removes any hint of reduction or stuffiness from an old wine that has spent several years in the bottle. Such aromas are quite natural; they quickly disperse to allow the wine’s bouquet to unfurl at leisure. Decanting must not, however, be excessively long or the very subtle bouquet of an old wine will drift away. This phase is less important for good white wines than for reds, but wine lovers will choose to decant a good white that has been aged in the barrel. Young red wines are decanted for different reasons. Firstly, to get rid of the CO2 present in a young wine when it is bottled. And secondly, to smooth out its young, full-bodied tannins as they may be rather harsh. The tannins combine with the oxygen in the air and become suppler on the palate, less aggressive. In general, wine is decanted two hours before being served. Wines with a lot of aroma and little tannin do not need to be decanted. On the contrary, their aroma may lose its intensity. The bouquet must remain intact. To decide whether or not to decant, simply taste the wine immediately after opening. Your taste buds will advise you better than all of the literature on the subject, as decanting is far from a precise science. It’s more a question of experience.