Decanters are an excellent tool for both older and younger red wines. They expose the wine to a larger surface area than a wine glass, and thus the wine can be in contact with more oxygen. A variety of chemical reactions take place when wine is exposed to oxygen. While oxygen is the enemy of beer, it is one of wine’s best friends. When wine breathes, its flavors and aromas evolve over time.
With an older wine that has had time to age, decanting allows the qualities that have developed over a long period to express themselves. Without a decanter, you might not be able to pick up on the complexities of an old vintage. Decanters can also be helpful for aerating younger wines as well. Younger wines that haven’t had a chance to age won’t have the expressive flavors and aromas of an older wine.
However, using a decanter will let a young wine open up as much as possible, allowing you to taste and smell qualities that would otherwise go unnoticed. Decanting young red wines will also reduce their tannic nature and allow you to appreciate the other subtle notes that tannins might mask.