Let’s talk about decanting. I think that most people who enjoy wine are familiar with the process of decanting, introducing air to a liquid by pouring it from one container into another. This serves two major purposes. First, if you’ve stored your wine correctly with the neck slightly below parallel to keep the cork wet so that it doesn’t dry out and crack (you do that, right?), then any sediment in the wine will settle into the wider bottom of the bottle. Thanks to the large dimple in the bottom of the bottle, called the “punt,” (see, you learn something every day here at GearDiary.com), most of the sediment settles in a ring along the outside edge. This facilities carefully pouring the wine into your glass, or even better, into a decanter without letting little bits of cork or tannic grape skin remnants into your fine wine.
The second main reason for decanting is to aerate the wine, since everyone know that wine opens up if you let it breathe. Especially younger vintages of highly tannic wines like Cabernet Sauvignons and Syrahs can have a tendency to be very “tight,” meaning that the flavors can be a little astringent and would probably benefit from either a few more years in the bottle or at least an hour or so to open up after you pop the cork. But who’s got the patience for that?
That’s where decanting comes in handy. By pouring the wine through an aerating screen, or even better over something that will form a thin film of liquid for a more gentle a total exposure to oxygen, you can simulate years of aging (or hours of opening up) almost instantly. You may have seen those pour spouts that claim to aerate wine in gadget catalogs or in-flight shopping magazines. While those are helpful, there are many oenophiles who believe that basically bubbling the wine is too harsh a treatment for something that the wine maker spent years introducing elegance to.
The Travaso Gemini Wine Decanter is much more gentle on your fine grape juice. In addition to being an impressive piece for barware/sculpture, the Travaso utilizes a glass sphere to create a super-thin film of wine to expose to the air. The sphere is partially full of water, which serves two purposes. First it adds a little weight to keep the decanter stable while you pour. Secondly, and even more ingeniously, it allows you to store the sphere in your refrigerator for when you want to slightly cool your wine while you decant it.
In truth, most of us serve our white wines too cold and our red wines too warm. Unless you have a cellar system to store your collection, most of us keep our whites in the fridge and our reds at room temperature. Actually, white wines taste best at around 50°F, and most reds exhibit best between 59°-64°F. You’ll notice that neither range is near refrigerator or room temperature. My easy fix is to pull white wines out of the cold a half hour before I plan to drink them, and I put my reds in the fridge a half hour before opening. But with the Gemini, you can cool that delicate Pinot Noir by a crucial few degrees and be ready to drink within minutes instead of hours; that’s my kind of technology!
The final reason to decant is strictly for the sheer stagecraft of the ritual. Restaurants that use Travaso decanters as part of their wine service usually see about a 30% increase in wine sales, because neighboring tables watch the sommelier pouring for somebody else and think “I gotta get me some of THAT!”
Seriously, a proper decanting service employs some sort of external light source like a candle or a small light to show off the color and character of the wine before it hits your glass. At home or in a restaurant, using a decanter like the Travaso Gemini really does enhance the experience of drinking a fine bottle, and for what a great bottle costs nowadays, why not maximize the enjoyment?
A final benefit that this particular decanter has is the fact that it is tall enough to actually decant your wine back into the bottle if you’d like to open it up, then let it open up, then close it back up to take to a party at a friend’s house. The only quibble and warning that I have about the Gemini is that since each decanter really is like a custom piece of sculpture, the capacity of the glass vessel that stores your decanted wine is not always consistent. The one that I tried didn’t quite hold an entire 750ml bottle of wine, which could lead to a really big mess if you tried to pour the whole bottle in too fast and overflowed it all over your table. I could just see myself panicking and reaching for a towel while trying to stop the flow of wine. My next vision was of my clumsy butt knocking over the entire contraption and then sleeping in the doghouse for the rest of my adult life.
But if you use it correctly and carefully, the convenience of being able to grandly decant your wine and then pour it by the glass by simply raising your vessel up to the plastic collar at the bottom of the Gemini is pretty darn cool. At $199.00, it’s not a cheap addition to your home bar, but think how dramatic your next wine tasting will be. If it makes ten $20 bottles of wine taste like $40 bottles after a proper decanting, the Travaso Gemini Wine Decanter can essentially pay for itself in no time. That’s the kind of rationalization I can get behind. Cheers!
The Travaso Gemini and Grapevine Wine Decanters are available at the company website and at selected wine stores and restaurants.
What I Like: A gorgeous piece of sculpture for your home bar that provides a dramatic presentation of your wine service; It actually improves the taste of younger wines by allowing them to open up thanks to exposure to air.
What Needs Improvement: It’s a little bit tall and unwieldy, but that’s what provides the drama; Just don’t knock it over or allow it to overflow, and you’ll be the best sommelier on your block!