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Hyperdecanting


Chris Hennes
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In their forthcoming book Modernist Cuisine, Myhrvold and company present a technique they call "hyperdecanting": basically, running a bottle of wine through your blender for 30-60 seconds and the highest speed. This oxygenates the wine and allows it to outgas in basically the same way as traditional decanting, but much faster. According to the book, it works best on young reds. Has anyone tried anything like this?

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I inadvertently learned this a couple months ago when making a pitcher of sangria. Usually the wine I use for this recipe needs a good time to breathe before the finished product tastes right. This was sort of a last minute thing and I didn't have any simple syrup ready, so I threw the red wine into my vita-mix with sugar. Blended it up, poured it into the pitcher with the fruit, and it tasted like it had been sitting around for an hour or two...the blending completely mellowed it out.

edit: typo

Edited by therippa (log)
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I've heard this suggested by folks in the industry, but haven't tried it yet. It seems to make sense, helping the wine reach the oxygen saturation point more quickly. I've been experimenting with decanting everything lately, particularly young, inexpensive reds. I tend to like the results.

Corinna Heinz, aka Corinna

Check out my adventures, culinary and otherwise at http://corinnawith2ns.blogspot.com/

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Sitting at my local wine shop/bar one day, a local distributor's rep had an especially tight (his words)bottle of red. He pulls out a hand held blender and a pitcher from the shop and goes to town on it. Remarkable difference in before and after taste. I seem to recall seeing this done on a TV show somewhere, too.

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I was just thinking, what are some (potentially absurd) alternatives for "extreme" decanting (OK, I like "hyperdecanting" more):

- pouring the wine out into one or more sheet pans - very high exposure to air, with less mechanical agitation than the Vita-Mix

- using a/several fishtank bubbler(s) to run many small bubbles through the wine - lots of surface area exposure to air, again with very little mechanical shock or agitation

- using the whisk attachment (or a hand mixer) to introduce more bubbles as though you are whipping cream, rather than the blender

- doing any of these things under higher pressure

One factor in this is: How much is decanting "exposing" the wine to air/O2, versus dissolving O2 into the wine - in other words, doing the oxygen equivalent of "carbonation". Folks who follow Dave Arnold may know the process for home carbonating water - fill bottle with cold water, pressurize headspace with CO2, shake bottle, enjoy fizzy water. Theoretically, you could do the same with O2 instead of CO2, and dissolve a lot of O2 into the wine. We all know what carbonated wine is like - I wonder if some of this hyperdecanting effect from the blender or a Vinturi (the "gurgler" in my home) is "carbonating" the wine with air. The extra mechanical action would dissolve more O2 than without agitation. It might be subtle enough that you don't get bubbles forming in the glass, but enough that there's some reaction as the wine hits the tongue.

Of course, during agitation not all the air/O2 will dissolve - so some of the chemical reactions will occur at a high rate while whizzing. When you stop, the bubbles float out, and you're back to a much lower level of O2 exposure, and the rate at which the reactions occur slows back down.

Regarding "decanting" versus "wine that's been open for a day or more" - my assumption is that different oxidation reactions occur at different rates. Some will happen in seconds with high levels of oxygen (with hyperdecanting) versus minutes/tens of minutes with standard decanting, but other reactions would still take tens of minutes or hours, respectively. Following this line of wild chemistry speculation on my part, that should give you enough time to enjoy a glass of the hyperdecanted wine before the "day old" effect emerges.

Then there's the "shearing" action of the blender. I'm pretty sure that you don't want to re-blend the sediment from the bottom of a bottle into the wine. But once sediment has precipitated out, what sort of molecules are left to form the wine itself? Clearly, water and ethanol are very small, compact molecules. Are some of the color/flavor molecules much larger/more fragile? I guess my question is: is there anything in normal wine that is big enough to be "cut up" by the blender blades. I would assume not, but Nathan's team have been figuring out all sorts of in-obvious things. If there aren't any sort of "big molecules" or similar structures in wine that could be "damaged", then is there any truth to the myths about "bottle shock" or shaking wine?

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Metal is not terribly soluble in wine, nor is it terribly reactive to it. I'd be very very skeptical of anyone's ability to taste a difference between a bottle of wine in contact with a few square centimeters of metal for 30 seconds and a bottle that wasn't.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Chris,

I not going into the metal thing.. it might be just me. But I must say I had to try it.. I took an 07 KJ reserva cab that was givin a 90-93 pt rating.. which was way to woody for me.. I did your thing.. I did 15 secs and rested 30 mins prior to trying it. I have to say.. I'm impressed..

Thanks

Its good to have Morels

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I've done this with three wines, a young Cahors, a very wellmade Spanish Garnacha, and a Cab Franc from the Loire. Each time, I saved a glass to compare with the hyperdecanted bottle. In my highly unscientific tests, the differences were pretty amazing each time. It was like a clinic in the benefits of decanting. This really does work.

nunc est bibendum...

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If the benefits are so great, why don't low end wine producers do it when they bottle (or bag)?

Maybe they do already...

They do. It's called microoxygenation. The problem is, you can only go so far with that before you get oxidation. The effects are not easy to control with microoxygenation. And normal decanting can do the job of oxygenating the wine anyway; hyperdecanting just does it faster.

nunc est bibendum...

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Don't try this with any red that has thrown even a little sediment, or, a fortiori, any wine you would decant. The wine gets turbid and cloudy and tastes dreadful.

An old joke:

A diner orders an old, expensive bottle of wine. The waiter approaches the table with it held horizontally in one hand, swinging it back and forth.

Diner: Waiter, have you shaken that wine?

Waiter: No, but I will....

I know, an expensive bottle would be brought by the sommelier. Still a funny story.

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Tried this yesterday with a young Bordeaux as the idea itself made sense. I think it worked well overall in terms of taste, with the tannins a lot softer.

However the colour of the wine was definitely a different shade - maybe if I left it for a while, it mught get back to the original colour - which kind of defeats the point:-)

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The Modernist Cuisine suggestion is to filter the wine first.

Will a regular metal fine mesh strainer do, or do we need cheesecloth or a Superbag?

Paper Coffee filters for me.. the non bleached kind!!

Edited by Paul Bacino (log)

Its good to have Morels

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I believe they suggested a normal fine mesh strainer, but my reviewer access has expired so I can't check it out. Chris Amirault, you reading this? Can you look it up?

I think that's what it was, but I will look it up when I get home.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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