Ask Sid: Decanting Using a Candle?

January 11th, 2017
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candle decanter wine

Question: Saw you across the room on Monday at the BC Sommelier of the Year competition finals. Wanted to get your thoughts about how they used a candle flame for the decanting service.

Answer: Sorry I missed speaking with you there. Wonderful very difficult competition organized by The Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers BC Chapter. Really enjoyed the finals with the top 3 each being given 18 stressful minutes to orally give their impressions on 7 glasses served blind – 4 wine and 3 mixed drinks. Also only 3 minutes to point out the errors in a specially made-up many mistakes full wine list page with spelling, region and pricing etc. The decanting of the magnum of wine went well. Perhaps prefer using a magnum decanter rather than 2 smaller ones. Not a big fan of the candle use for decanting because of the resulting smells. My thoughts were that I didn’t think that lighting and especially extinguishing the candle flame right at the dining table was the best method to use. Prefer it to be lit and extinguished away from the table. Otherwise it leaves behind some smoky odours that may detract from your enjoyment of the bouquet of the wine. Prefer using a bright flashlight that avoids this issue.

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January 11th, 2017

3 Responses

  1. Larry Burr says:

    In agreement with Sid; candle smell detracts. Also, not intense enough for darker glass bottles. Recommend: high intensity LED flashlight 500 – 1000 lumens. Can even light up the bottom of port bottles.

  2. I couldn’t agree more with both Sid and Larry Burr. I want to see the sediment when it first starts coming off the bottom of the bottle when decanting. It helps me to see the texture, density, and amount of sediment way before it reaches the neck. A candle just doesn’t have enough intensity to pierce through a darker glass bottle and even a middle dark wine except at the neck. And I hate the the smokey, arid aroma of the candle, especially when you blow it out.

  3. Sidney Cross says:

    Thanks Larry & Wimberly for your wise observations. Very good recommendations. Appreciated. Obviously the 3 of us are using a better procedure for decanting wine than that used by the best sommelier.

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