Contrary to popular belief, decanting is chiefly required for young wines, which must be opened in order to express their full flavour. The time required varies between 2 and 24 hours depending on the wine and the vintage, as wines that are strong in tannins generally require additional time. Aged vintages do not require long decanting, and you can open the bottle between 1 and 2 hours before tasting.
At Lafite, the cellar master always performs a double decanting of red wines:
decanting in carafe (candlelight),
cleaning the bottle,
and filling the bottle with the decanted wine.
Decanting is recommended even if for a very short time as it enables the aromas to open up and it is also an opportunity to check for any faults in the wine.
What are the ideal temperatures for wines?
Poor temperature can bias the tasting, the sense of alcohol will be higher when the temperature increases and in the opposite case the intensity of the bouquet will decrease.
In general, we recommend to taste wines at the following temperatures :
16 to 18°C for oak-aged reds,
15 to 17°C for un-oaked reds,
10 to 12°C for whites and rosés,
8 to 10°C for sweet whites
The room temperature also needs to be considered. For example, a wine tasted at 11°C will seem too cold in a really hot climate. It would be better in that case to drink it at 13 or 14°C.
On a practical basis, the white wines should be kept in the fridge before the meal and taken out around 15 to 30 minutes before serving. For the red, they should be stored in a cool room (2°C less than the room temperature) until the moment of serving.