How Long Does It Take to Decant Wine?

Decanting wine is a great way to improve the flavors and remove sediments from wine. Many types of red wine and some types of white need to be decanted to bring out the aromas and flavors. However, if you leave wine in a decanter for too long, it may go bad or turn into vinegar.

It takes between 30 minutes to 3 hours to decant wine, but this depends on the type of wine, how long it has aged, and the type of decanter you’re using. Decanting a wine for too long or decanting the wrong type of wine could result in a sour or bitter taste.

This article will discuss the ideal duration to leave wine in a decanter. It will also look at the type of wines you can decant, what decanters are best for wine and what will happen if you leave wine in a decanter for too long.

wine decanter

How Far in Advance Should You Decant Wine?

Decant wine before serving to get the best flavors and aromas. Decanting wine will expose it to oxygen and can separate the sediments from the wine. However, finding the perfect duration to leave wine in a decanter can be challenging. So, how long should you leave wine in a decanter before serving?

You should decant wine in advance for 30 minutes to 3 hours at most. You can decant the wine for less than 30 minutes, but don’t leave it in a decanter for more than 3 hours. However, half an hour is more than enough to decant most types of red wine.

Multiple factors will affect how long you should leave wine in a decanter. These include the wine’s age, the type of wine, and the type of decanter. Let’s look at these factors to help you choose the ideal duration for decanting your wine.

Wine Age

Wines that age for longer are usually more valuable and have better flavors and aromas. As a rule of thumb, the younger your wine is, the less decanting it will need. Most wines consumed regularly are less than 10 years old. These wines should be left in a decanter for between 1 to 3 hours.

Wines older than 10 years usually need around 20-30 minutes of decanting to release the flavors and shouldn’t be left in a decanter for more than an hour. On the more extreme end, you shouldn’t decant wines older than 20 years since they may negatively affect the taste.

So, unless you have a Cabernet Sauvignon or red Bordeaux bottle, you should leave the wine for at least 30 minutes to an hour in a decanter.

Type of Wine

Not all wines can be decanted, and you may have to leave some longer than others in a decanter. You may need to decant most types of red wine to remove the sediments and bring out the flavors.

Leave Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and other popular Red wines in the decanter for no more than an hour. Shiraz and Madeira need about 2 hours in the decanter before releasing their flavor. Barolo and other similar red wines may be left in the decanter for up to 3 hours.

Type of Decanter

The type of decanter can also affect how long to decant the wine. Some wine experts claim that crystal decanters are better than glass decanters, but there’s no scientific evidence on this. However, avoid using old crystal decanters with high lead content as the lead can seep into the wine.

Decanters with a more open design are also more effective since they expose more of the wine to air.

However, the difference is marginal when it comes to the wine’s taste. Instead of changing the decanter, change the way you pour the wine. Pouring wine more slowly exposes it to oxygen, helping it decant faster.

So, while the decanter type may affect how long it takes to decant wine, the difference is marginal.

What Happens if You Leave Wine in a Decanter for Too Long?

If you leave wine in a decanter for too long, it can go bad or turn vinegary. Red wine will lose its taste or become orange and undrinkable if left for too long. White wine shouldn’t be decanted in the first place, but leaving it exposed in a decanter could cause it to turn to vinegar.

Never leave wine in a decanter for longer than the recommended time. Most red wines will start to lose their flavor after 3 hours of being placed in a decanter. Red wine will start to turn to vinegar between 12-24 hours of being exposed to open air.

If you leave wine in a decanter for a couple of hours, it will still be edible. However, it will ruin the unique wine flavor.


What Types of Wine Can’t Be Decanted?

You shouldn’t decant white wine and rose wine, but this is not a rule of thumb. Older white wines and pure sparkling wines don’t contain any sediment and therefore don’t need decanting. Decanting white wine could negatively affect the aroma and taste.

Some people may decant white wines to release certain flavors, but this is done carefully. You can decant younger white wines to release their flavors, but avoid doing the same with older wines.

Can You Put Decanted Wine Back in the Bottle?

You can put decanted wine back in the bottle after decanting it once. This is called double decanting and is common in hotels and bars where wine is served regularly. Do this a few hours before serving to get the most out of your wine.

However, avoid double decanting older wines or white wines since it may ruin the taste curated over many years. Additionally, seal the bottle properly to prevent the decanted wine from being exposed to air.


Decanting wine can release many flavors and aromas, making the wine tastier. However, leaving wine in a decanter for too long can cause the wine to lose its taste, turn to vinegar or go bad. Additionally, leave younger red wines in a decanter for longer and avoid decanting white and rose wine.

If you want to serve the wine in its original bottle, you can double decant it. However, consume it soon after double decanting since wine starts to lose its taste when exposed to air.

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