In order for your Penfolds wines to deliver their true potential, it is important to follow a few simple measures.
Opening your wine
An advantage with screw-cap closures is that you don’t have the bother of using a corkscrew and the bottles are easy to re-seal. For bottles sealed under cork, there are many kinds of openers to choose from. However, a simple ‘waiters’ friend’ corkscrew will do the job most of the time on younger wines.
At the Penfolds Re-corking Clinics, we often use the long barrelled standard table model Screwpull® corkscrew. This has a Teflon-coated pliable screw and a rigid frame which guides the screw into the centre of the cork and pulls it out with relative ease.
For older wines sealed under cork, Penfolds advocates using the German Monopole® Ah-So two prong bottle opener. This unique device allows intact removal of old, crumbly, moist corks. It works by slipping the two prongs down either side of the cork rather than running a screw into the middle.
How to decant
The primary purpose of decanting is to separate the wine from sediment that develops in the bottle over time as a wine matures. However, even very young wines without sediment benefit from decanting as the process allows oxygen to come into contact with the wine. This oxygen contact ‘opens’ the wine up allowing it to show at its best.
Penfolds recommend decanting all of our red wines before serving. Penfolds often uses the method of double-decanting, especially for large wine dinners. Many wine collectors will double-decant to avoid confusing various different decanters as it is easy to identify the re-filled original bottles on the table during a meal.
It is advisable to transfer the bottle to a decanting cradle, or to stand the bottle for several hours prior to decanting. This will allow the sediment to settle at the bottom of the bottle. In a well lit area, unscrew the cap or pull the cork and pour the wine carefully and steadily into a clean decanter or glass jug. You can use a funnel if you wish. Try to minimise the amount of turbulence occurring in the bottle, as this will only disturb the sediment. Observe the wine passing through the neck and shoulder of the bottle, you may find using a candle or torch helpful. The wine should appear quite clear until you reach the point when sediment starts to trickle through. At this stage stop pouring.
To double-decant, simply rinse the original bottle out with bottled or filtered (non-chlorinated) water and dispose of all the residual sediment. Once clean, hold the bottle upside down until all the water has completely drained out. Using a clean funnel carefully refill it from the decanter. This double aeration of the wine will also help the wine open up, however with very old wines it is advisable to trickle the wine very carefully and slowly down the sides of the decanter and bottle to minimise splashing and aeration.
You can decant white wine, but usually this is an issue of personal preference. Penfolds often decants Yattarna and Reserve Bin Chardonnay as we believe the wines benefit from the aeration.