I recently read in Fine Champagne Magazine that one of the tasters liked his Champagne decanted for at least 30 minutes to 2 hours. Although I did recall having heard this before, I wondered what would happen if Champagne was decanted for that length of time. What about the bubbles? I was afraid that it would go flat and lose the liveliness that I love in Champagne. I decided to conduct a little experiment. I went out and bought 2 half bottles of Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut NV Champagne. After chilling them, I opened one and decanted it. After an hour I opened the other and compared the two. Here’s what I found:
Freshly opened: medium intensity on the nose with yellow apple, pear, and pineapple aromas mingling with bread, yeast and a bit of toast. It had a persistent mousse with many small bubbles rising in streams from the bottom of the glass. On the palate it was dry with lots of crisp acidity. The same fruit followed through and there were hints of biscuit and bread on the long, creamy finish.
Decanted for 1 hour: It still has bubbles but not as many. Medium intensity on the nose with the same fruit aromas but the fruit seems sweeter and riper. On the palate it was more round and fuller-bodied with the riper fruit following through. The acidity seemed a bit less. It was a bit creamier and still had a long finish.
In conclusion, I found that the decanted wine was not flat at all but it did have a fuller-body and riper fruit with slightly less acidity. It was a very interesting experiment! Which one did I like better? I liked them both, however I do enjoy the liveliness of a freshly opened bubbly.
I have also read that when a Champagne is decanted it loses some of its acidity and becomes more of a dessert wine. (Make sure the dessert isn’t too sweet though.)