Steven Grubbs is a sommelier and wine director at Empire State South (Atlanta, GA) and Five & Ten (Athens, GA). Ask him what to drink on Twitter, where he also accepts questions on tacos and manhood.
I'll let the Rude Gus troll-tone slide this time, and say a little more about technique, since you brought it up. In decanting for sediment, the goal is to leave sediment in the bottle, so yes, the sharper shoulders of a Bordeaux-shaped bottle can be helpful, but, unless you are pouring it all out at once, you will redistribute sediment throughout the wine as soon as you turn the bottle back up (especially if it is a fairly old wine with muddy sediment). So, a decanter lets you trap sediment in the bottle and then pour around as you like. Ask any Ancient Roman, he'll tell you all about it.
As far as aeration goes, like I said, it seems to be a matter of taste. I like to serve wine at various levels of aeration, depending on the wine and the dish it is pairing with. There is also an aesthetic/presentation component here, and while I appreciate Myhrvold's blender idea, I'm not sure running the Vita-Prep on the floor with somebody's Brunello bouncing around inside would contribute very much to the dining experience. Also, I firmly believe that the blender trick and Vinturis make the wine far too homogenous, aerating it all all once, instead of in layers, which for me leads to a duller, more uniform wine without much vitality.
Yep CandiRisk, tannin acts as a kind of natural preservative, as does acidity and alcohol (I probably should have included that one in my short-list, also). This doesn't mean that you need a lot of all three for a wine to age. For instance, a sweet German Riesling might have tons of acidity, not a lot of alcohol, and pretty much no tannin, but it can age for decades on just the preservative ability of the acid alone (it will probably get a little help from the residual sugar, too). On the other hand, a red wine from Bordeaux will have lower acidity than the Riesling, but it will have plenty of tannin and more alcohol. This recipe allows for decades of aging, too.
And yes you are correct about tannins fading over time. In the solution of the wine they combine with each other to form increasingly complex shapes. It seems that this makes them taste softer, less astringent. As they combine they eventually get too heavy to stay in solution, so they also precipitate out and join the ranks of sediment. The wine will get softer still.
We shouldn't, however, ignore the issue of balance. For the wine to age gracefully (i.e. gain complexity and stay beautiful) the wine needs to have a good balance between its key components, all of which are changing, softening, and basically degrading in solution. In a balanced wine, the acid, fruit, tannin, etc. will all work to support each other and keep the wine developing in an interesting way. If the wine isn't balanced--for instance, if there is a ton of tannin but not much fruit or acidity--then the weaker spots will fall apart earlier than the strong parts, and so we will end up with a still-tannic wine with no fruit or refreshing acidity, which is no fun at all.
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