You often see red wine in a decanter, but you rarely see white in one. Nevertheless, it pays to decant white wine as well. While white wine usually doesn’t contain the same amount of sediment as red wine, it does exhibit similar properties when exposed to air. When white wine is exposed to a larger surface area in a decanter, it is subsequently exposed to a greater amount of oxygen. And like red wine, a variety of chemical reactions affecting flavor, aroma, and texture take place when white wine and air meet.
Another factor is temperature. White wines are often consumed straight out of the fridge. Decanting a white wine allows the wine to warm slightly to a more optimal drinking temperature. Screwtops are another reason decanting white wine is a good idea. Some screwtops contain mercaptans, which are sulfur-derived compounds that can leave an unpleasant taste. Aerating a screwtop white wine will allow some of those sulfur aromas to escape.
Essentially, the important thing to remember is that white wine is wine, and all wine benefits from at least some exposure to oxygen. That’s why many upscale restaurants with extensive wine lists are the most likely places to see a white wine decanting. But you can, and should, also decant your whites at home.