How to Decant

Transferring wine from the bottle into a glass decanter not only improves flavor by promoting aeration; it also prevents sediment, common in older and unfiltered wines, from ending up in the glass. It's a simple technique, but there are a few tricks to doing it right. Here are the steps that master sommelier Robert Smith, of the Las Vegas restaurant Picasso, recommended to us.

1. Using a foil cutter or the blade on a waiter's corkscrew, remove the foil from around the bottle's neck; then pull the cork from the bottle with a corkscrew that provides ample stability, like a Screwpull. (Note: Before opening, let the bottle stand upright for a few hours—up to a day for older wines—so that any sediment can move to the bottom.)

2. Wipe the mouth of the bottle inside and out with a moist napkin or cloth to remove any cork residue.

3. Prepare to decant the wine in a brightly lit place so that you'll be able to detect any sediment escaping from the bottle; Smith usually holds a lit candle to the neck of the bottle.

4. Slowly pour the wine into the decanter, checking for sediment. If any appears, stop pouring and let the bottle stand again for 15 to 30 minutes before continuing. Leave between a half ounce and an ounce in the bottle.