Question: I decant a lot of my wines. Never sure whether to put the stopper back into the top of the decanter after pouring out the bottle. Your thoughts?
Answer: I also decant most of my wines at home. Young whites and reds usually are helped from the aeration of the act of pouring itself and I leave the stopper out for even more exposure and help open the aromas. Particularly good for screw top closures to help get rid of any reductive issues that may show up initially in the wine. For older whites and reds the decanting is an important procedure to get a clean clear wine off the tartaric acid crystals or sediment that may have resulted from time in the bottle and freshen it up. Be careful. In those cases it is preferable not to aerate too much so put the stopper back in to avoid extra airing and the loss of the delicate bouquet. Stopper is also good protection if you are dining outdoors or there are any insects around. Use your own good judgment on the stopper based on how the wine is showing while you are decanting it.
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