Is Hyperdecanting All Hype?

Traditionally, decanting wine involves pouring the wine into a larger receptacle and allowing it to sit and “breathe”. This helps to reduce the taste of tannins and the astringency. Additionally, it will help bring out the natural aromas and flavors. Decanters made of metal or earthenware have been traced back to the Roman Empire.

Although most Walla Faces red wines do not need to be decanted, our bold 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, the Janice, benefits from sitting in a decanter for about an hour at cellar temperature. Unfortunately, many of us are impatient creatures. Waiting an hour for a glass of wine can be a slow torture. That’s where hyperdecanting comes in.

Master Chef Nathan Myhrvold, author of the colossal (an expensive!) cooking volume Modernist Cuisine proposed hyperdecanting as a quicker method for decanting your favorite wine.

Myhrvold outlines his technique, stating “I just pour the wine in, frappé away at the highest power setting for 30 to 60 seconds, and then allow the froth to subside (which happens quickly) before serving. I call it ‘hyperdecanting.’ Although torturing an expensive wine in this way may cause sensitive oenophiles to avert their eyes, it almost invariably improves red wines—particularly younger ones, but even a 1982 Château Margaux. Don’t just take my word for it, try it yourself.”

So we did!

I wanted to test which method of wine would yield the most delicious results for the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon: undecanted wine, traditionally decanted wine, or hyperdecanted wine.

To ensure that our preconceptions about decanting and hyperdecanting didn’t play a role, the tastings were done blind. Everyone tried all three wines, but they tried them in different orders and they didn’t know what version they were trying.

20 participants tried the wines, ranked them in order from least favorite to favorite, and offered their tasting notes. I then assigned each ‘favorite’ three points, each ‘second favorite’ two points and each ‘least favorite’ one point.
The hyperdecanted wine and the decanted wine were the best liked, receiving almost identical scores. However, they got very different comments from the tasters.

Although the hyperdecanted wine had the mildest tannins, participants reported a bitter, unpleasant taste. The traditionally decanted wine still displayed very strong tannins, but had a richer bouquet and fuller, more flavorful body and a more appealing mouthfeel.

Given these comments, it is clear that hyperdecanting does change the flavor of the wine significantly. However, it is NOT the equivalent of traditional decanting.

For individuals who appreciate bold red wines, traditional decanting will offer a much better product with more flexibility, since you can choose how long you decant the wine. Still, if you are very sensitive to tannins, you might want to give hyperdecanting a try on an inexpensive bottle of wine.

Behind the Scenes at the Walla Faces Wine Club


As many of you are already aware, last week Walla Faces was hard at work packing up wine club shipments! It’s always a big endeavor to get wine club shipments out to our wine club members, who live all across the United States. We thought we would show you a little bit of what goes on at wine club shipment time behind the scenes.

This is the first wine club shipment that has included a bottle of Matthew, the 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This complex, full-bodied wine is made from the free run of the Walla Faces Estate Cabernet grapes and available exclusive to wine club members. We only made 176 cases of the wine! Because this was the first shipment to include a Reserve Cab, we pulled out all the stops. Both Matthew Loso, our winemaker, and Candice Johnson, our artist, signed every single bottle of Reserve Cab! It made for both elegant bottles and very sore hands.

A polished black and white folio gave our wine club members an update on Walla Faces, information on how to best enjoy some of our new wines, and, of course, warm wishes from Rick and Debbie, the owners.

Although we only ship every six months, we spend all year brainstorming on ways to make our wine club even more special. This shipment, we included beautiful handmade glass winestoppers that looked even more stunning against our striking labels.

Bottles With Wine Stoppers

Don’t our Cabernets look beautiful adorned with these wine stoppers? In addition to our Reserve Cabernet, our wine club members received a special early release of the Janice, our Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Janice will be released to the public later this year.

Everything all packed up and ready to go! Each case looks a little difference because we tailor our shipments to your preferences.

It was hard work, but we have finished and gotten our wine club members their packages, save for a few Walla Walla residents who haven’t picked up their shipments in the Walla Faces Tasting Room just yet.

If you are interested in learning more about the Walla Faces wine club, check it out on our website here. Alternatively, if you are in Walla Walla, drop by the Tasting Room at 216 East Main St.! It’s not too late to get some awesome holiday specials available only to wine club members.

How to Chill a Riesling

Walla Faces RieslingWe have previously talked about the importance of temperature for serving red wine. It is important for serving white wine as well.

The Walla Faces Riesling, of course, should be served chilled. At cooler temperatures, the acidity of the wine is emphasized, making the taste more pleasant and refreshing. In addition, for a sweet grape like a Riesling, warmer temperatures will cause the wine to taste cloyingly sweet.

The easiest way to chill our Riesling is simply to keep a bottle or two in the refrigerator. Then, it will be ready to go at a momentís notice.

But what should you do if your forgot to pre-chill your Riesling?

Here are some tips for getting your wine to the perfect temperature:

The ideal method: Fill a bucket up with ice and sprinkle generously with salt, which will lower the freezing temperature. Place the bottle of Riesling in the ice. After six minutes, your bottle should be perfectly chilled.

Alternative method: Wrap a wet towel around your wine bottle and place it in the freezer for 15 minutes. Be sure you donít forget about it, or your wine will be ruined! I recommend setting a timer.

Fall Release Sneak Preview: Magnum Bottles!

If you have dropped by the Walla Faces Tasting Room in the past few days, you have probably noticed the large bottles on the edge of the counter. “Magnum”, which means “extra-large” in Latin, is the term for these generously sized bottles. A standard bottle of wine holds 750 milliliters. A magnum holds twice as much– 1,500 ml, or 1.5 liters.


Magnum and a bottle of our Fusion

Wine takes longer to age in a magnum bottle because there is a greater ratio of wine to air. This ratio allows the wine to develop evenly and smoothly. Many wine experts believe that the size of a magnum bottle allows the wine to age with grace, increasing its complexity and sophistication.

Walla Faces is preparing for Fall Release, where we will be offering some of our most beloved older vintages in the magnum size. The 2006 Janice, a classic Walla Walla-grown Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2006 Fusion, a delicious blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Syrah, were two of the Walla Faces wines that helped give us our start. For long-time fans, this is an opportunity to try some of your favorite wines again, and to see how the magnum bottle enhanced their flavor and richness. For people who have been introduced to Walla Faces more recently, it is a chance to try a limited re-release of older vintages that are otherwise no longer available. Because wine in magnum bottles takes longer to mature, we have allowed our magnum bottles to age for an additional two years to ensure that they will have developed perfectly.

Magnums and bottles of Fusion and Cabernet

Magnums and Bottles of Fusion and Cabernet

Magnum bottles are the perfect addition to large events. You might want to consider bringing a magnum bottle of Walla Faces wine to Thanksgiving, Christmas dinner, or other holiday celebrations. The wine lovers at your table with certainly be impressed!

Walla Faces Magnums will be available for $99 apiece starting Fall Release Weekend, November 2-4, 2012.