Decanting wine at a BYOB?
January 31, 2008 8:21 AM   Subscribe

What to do about bringing wine that needs decanting to a BYOB restaurant?

Ok, here's the deal. My SO and I enjoy wine, but are not complete aficionados. However, it's her birthday tomorrow and I made reservations at a great little BYOB. I also bought a nice 2001 Barolo, which from what I've read, requires at least a couple hours of decanting.

I'm not sure what to do. I don't think decanting at home beforehand is an option, and I don't plan on being at the restaurant so long that we're just starting a bottle 2 hours in.

Should I just bring a different bottle and let the Barolo decant while we're at dinner, and enjoy it when we get back? Or should I bring it and just let it decant for 30-60 minutes before drinking, assuming it will improve throughout the meal?
posted by ssmug to Food & Drink (12 answers total)
Why can't you decant at home then pour it back into the bottle?
posted by zeoslap at 8:24 AM on January 31, 2008

What about dropping the wine off a couple of hours early and asking the staff to decant it for you?
posted by iconomy at 8:27 AM on January 31, 2008

As zeoslap said, decant at home. I do this all the time as I only have one decanter, but often need to air a couple of bottles.

Just pour the wine into a measuring jug slowly, towards the end if any sediment starts to appear, stop, and pour the rest of the wine away - you'll lose a litttle wine, but keep the bulk of it clear. (Of course, the wine might not have sediment in it, depending on the style of wine)

If you have space in the jug, slosh it about to get some air in to it, and leave a couple of hours.

Rinse out the bottle to get rid of any sediment.

Pour the wine back into the bottle and seal it with a wine stopper - using a funnel helps.

I'd do this in the afternoon, a couple of hours before you plan on starting to get ready to go out. Then when you arrive it will be ready to drink.

Pour smaller amounts of wine into the glass so you have space in the glass to slosh it around and get more air in when drinking it.
posted by paulfreeman at 8:34 AM on January 31, 2008

Don't ask the staff to decant for you two hours before your reservation. That's just asking for the wine to get lost.

What paulfreeman said. Decant it at home.
posted by desuetude at 8:54 AM on January 31, 2008

And if you're driving to the restaurant, put the bottle in your trunk to avoid getting trapped by open container laws.
posted by beagle at 9:00 AM on January 31, 2008

Don't ask the staff to decant for you two hours before your reservation

I disagree (I've worked in 4 good restaraunts). They should be able to handle this for you, and I'm sure it won't be their first time. Call ahead, though, and describe your question. Mention that it's a special occasion. Ask whether they can help you. Offer to bring a decanter if they don't have a decanter (but most good BYOBs keep corkscrews, decanters, and so forth around for just such an occasion).

And if they do a nice job, thank them with kind words and a tip that reflects the extra service they provided.
posted by Miko at 9:10 AM on January 31, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far!

I thought about decanting at home, but was worried about open container laws. Likewise, I thought about calling ahead, but was worried about the wine getting lost or switched. I think I'll probably take my chances with the open container laws and decant at home.
posted by ssmug at 9:28 AM on January 31, 2008

Miko, I realize that my answer was prejudiced by my location...BYOs in Philly tend to be TINY, so decanting ahead isn't a favor I'd ask. You're right that calling ahead to ask would be better.
posted by desuetude at 10:07 AM on January 31, 2008

Yeah, that would make a difference, desuetude. I just wanted to mention that it's not at all unusual, especially in the kinds of intimate/romantic places where people go for proposals, anniversaries, and the like. But calling would tell you everything you need to know. If they were like "uh...I don't know, we've never done that," I'd be safe and do it at home. But if they were confident and said "certainly! Here's how," then it would probably be just fine.

And heavens, if a restaurant lost or mixed up a bottle of wine you dropped off, you'd have grounds for some serious comping, in my book! They should take that pretty seriously.
posted by Miko at 10:18 AM on January 31, 2008

Alternatively, they may be able to aerate it for you thus reducing the time it needs to decant. I would call the restaurant, ask to speak to the sommelier and ask his/her advice.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:44 AM on January 31, 2008

One note: if you really care about the taste of that $$$ wine, rinsing the bottle with grotty tapwater (_if_ your tapwater is grotty) isnt good. Using brita filtered or springwater would be better!
posted by lalochezia at 2:45 PM on January 31, 2008

Buy a Vinturi (warning: text in caps). I was extremely doubtful of the device when my brother brought one over raving about it, but it really does instantly breathe the wine as if it had been decanted for a while. We even tried blind taste tests to remove newfangled gadget bias.
posted by pmbuko at 3:07 PM on January 31, 2008

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