How to make the most of fine wine

To ensure you get the best from your fine wine, it’s worth taking time to treat it properly – which may require some advance planning!

To decant, or not to decant?decanter

Most top quality wines benefit from being decanted. But there are two main reasons to decant – here is a useful rule of thumb, although for specific advice please do call us on 0845 194 7801:


1. Aerating the wine

If the wine:

  • costs over £20
  • is less than 3-5 years old then decant for 1-2 hours in advance of drinking

This will help the flavours to OPEN UP.  There are a number of ‘aerators’ on the market that can help do this job in a few minutes, but you can get most of the effect if you just slosh the contents of the bottle into a jug.

You shouldn’t need to worry too much about sediment with a young wine but do take a good look at it with a bright torch. If you can’t see sediment, then you can pour the wine into the decanter or jug.

tony LW2. Removing clear wine from cloudy sediment

If the wine

  • cost over £20
  • is a red over 10 years old

Stand upright for twenty-four hours and then decant carefully before drinking.

With older wines, the chances are there will be some sediment in the bottom, and it needs decanting so you don’t stir up the cloudiness.

Try to stand the bottle upright 24 hours in advance so that the sediment can settle – for anyone as disorganised as me, this is about as difficult to remember as defrosting the roast in good time!

The decanting itself doesn’t need to take place way in advance, though; in fact it is probably best done a few minutes before drinking. This is because wines of this age do not need extra oxygen and it may do more harm than good if the wine is particularly old.

Use a candle or an upended torch to view the sediment as it approaches the bottleneck so you know when to stop pouring.

Red wine glassIf the wine

  • cost £10-£20
  • is between 5-10 years old

Decanting can help make them taste a bit better, and while it is rarely essential, it is often part of the fun.


If you visit Chablis, you’ll find that some of our best producers like the Dampt family even decant their better whites! Sometimes the ceremony of preparing the bottle can help to build up the anticipation and seem to make the wine taste better. 

The glass does matterglass

Use the best glasses you can afford. Without doubt a finer glass will improve the experience and the right glass will often make a £10 wine taste like a £20 wine. We like Riedel glasses, and they make a wide variety of glasses for different occasions, wines, and price-brackets. Tulip-shaped glasses are ideal. The wide bowl exposes a large surface area of wine to air and helps release aromas, while the narrow opening funnels them up to your nose.

Set the scene and raise expectationswine advisors

If you have bought something special to share, then also share the story of the wine as you pour. Our wine advisors will give you all the background information that you need to really paint a picture for the audience.


Alternatively you can also contact our fine wine gurus by e-mailing or or you can reach them via phone on 0845 194 7801 for further advice.


About Laithwaite's Wine

Laithwaite's began in 1969, when Tony Laithwaite took a job washing bottles in Bordeaux... and fell in love with real wine and the people who make it. When he borrowed a van to share these delicious wines with friends and neighbours at home, things went so well that boutique wineries were soon queuing to take part. Today we're the UK's No.1 home-delivery wine merchant, with over 1,500 wines to choose from... including red, white and rosé, plus Champagne and sparkling, beer and cider.

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