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The issue is with surface area here. Just opening a bottle only exposes the top of the bottle to oxygen. If a wine is decanted, the act of pouring the wine and the larger surface area in the decanter helps the wine get exposed to more air. When some of the wine is then poured in your glass, swirled around, it gets exposed to even more air.
Some wines are not filtered or are only lightly filtered. This process can leave some sediment behind which sinks to the bottom of the bottle. This is perfectly normal, and actually is a good thing. It means that the flavors have remained in the wine. Some of the best wines I have enjoyed had sediment in them.
You will usually find sediment in great Bordeaux (Chateaux) wines that are aged at least 10 years, California Cabernet Sauvignon that is older than eight years and vintage Port that is 10 years or older.
I’ve also found sediment in Spatburgunder, big, bold Syrah and Barolo wine.
Wines that are 25 years or older should not be decanted. The flavors and aromas tend to be very fragile in these wines, so you want to preserve those as much as possible. Just open these and enjoy.
What you will need:
For most wines, pouring into the decanter and then into a glass is sufficient. Big, bold wines like Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino can benefit from a little bit longer time in the decanter.
The great thing about is that you can experiment while decanting wine. Try a little glass directly after pouring. If you think it needs time to breathe more, let it sit. Try it again in 15 minutes.
Personally, I prefer decanters with a large base. These give the wine a lot of surface area and therefore aerates faster. The great thing is that this style of decanter is not very expensive either. You can find a good decanter between $20 - $40.