There are no absolute rules that specify when you should or shouldn’t decant, but here are a few helpful tips that will serve you well.
- The wine is old enough that you feel it may have thrown sediment (5+ years). The whole purpose is of course to make sure no sediment reaches the glass. The older the wine the less time it should be decanted, the full bouquet of the wine may be short lived and could disappear if opened too far in advance.
- You have a young red wine that is closed or tannic. Decanting in this case will allow the wine to breathe and soften, making the wine more aromatic and dynamic. Decanting up to 24 hours in advance may be appropriate.
- It is a formal or special occasion.
You probably won’t need to decant most everyday wines or white wines.