A lot of people find the whole idea of decanting
nerve-wracking. Fortunately it's a lot easier than you might imagine.
So what does decanting mean? Simply put, it is the
act of pouring the port from its original bottle to another bottle (or port decanter) with the aim of leaving any sediment behind. The port
can be drunk from the decanter without any of the distasteful sediment being
encountered in the glass.
Some good news first...not all port wine needs decanting;
in fact the majority of port wines do not need to be decanted, having been
bottled without any sediment being present.
Only port wine that has been created to mature in
the bottle needs to be decanted - and a quick gander at the label will tell
you if it is required.
So you are looking for vintage port to
be stated on the label (and that's not the same thing as Late Bottled
Vintage, just to confuse things). A vintage port will say Vintage Port and will have a year designated as well.
Similarly, a Crusted Port will need
decanting - again it should state Crusted on the label and give
the year of bottling.
Lastly, look out for Traditional, Bottle Matured or Un-filtered on the labels of bottles of LBV port - whilst some
LBV port can be drunk without decanting, if the label has traditional or un-filtered it means it will need
Ports that state Vintage Character or Reserve are not actually vintage port, and will not require
decanting. Ruby port, tawny port, white port and colheita port do not
require decanting either but the experience of drinking them will still be
enhanced if served in a port decanter (you can just pour them straight
into the decanter without the funnel!)
So step 1 - decide what kind of port wine you have.