I have only seen one episode of HBO’s series Succession, but that does not mean I am left out of the Succession-focused discourse, particularly when the latest episode features an eerily familiar workplace scenario or a food or beverage hack.
I don’t know much about the show, but I think I kind of like Connor, based solely on the fact that he gave his grumpy rich dad a sourdough starter, and the slightly unhinged manner in which he utters “you don’t hyperdeCANT??” to his pretty blonde sister, eyes all wild and full of disbelief.
According to Connor, putting wine in a blender “softens the tannins” and “heightens the aromas,” allowing you to “age your wine five years in 10 seconds.” This seems hyperbolic, but hyperdecanting is not something born of Connor’s brain.
Hyperdecanting is not new. The technique was invented — or at least introduced to the public — by Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoft CTO and principle author of Modernist Cuisine. In a 2011 article he wrote for Bloomberg Businessweek, Myhrvold describes the process:
Wine lovers have known for centuries that decanting wine before serving it often improves its flavour. Whatever the dominant process, the traditional decanter is a rather pathetic tool to accomplish it.
A few years ago, I found I could get much better results by using an ordinary kitchen blender. 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.”
In his article, Myhrvold goes on to suggest how you might set up your own blind taste test to “determine with scientific rigour whether your tasters prefer the hyperdecanted wine.” A few folks have documented their hyperdecanting efforts, including all-things-four-hours author Tim Ferriss, a hyperdecanter who uses a blender:
The wine obsessives at Vinum Vita tried it out, too, and at least seemed to agree that it changes the flavour of the wine.
Not wanting to be left out (and wanting an excuse to drink wine before noon, I decided to give it a whirl). I bopped down to the corner store, grabbed a cheap ($15) bottle of Cabernet, and poured a glass before pouring about half of the bottle into my Instant Pot blender. I then blended the wine at the highest speed for half a minute, let the bubbles pop, and poured a glass of hyperdecanted wine.
Seeing as I was home by myself, I did not have anyone to set up a blind taste test, but even knowing which glass was which, I had a very hard time picking out any differences between the two. The blended wine may have tasted a little smoother, and a little less harsh, but I was so unsure I kept going back and forth between the two samples, never reaching a solid conclusion, becoming slightly tipsier by the second (I have not eaten today).
I don’t know much about all the chemical reactions that occur while ageing wine but, according to Wine Enthusiast, there’s a little more involved than rapidly exposing it to oxygen, though oxidation is a big part of it. Is it a fast way to open up the wine?
Sure, and I do think it tamed some of the harsher aspects of the freshly-opened bottle, but I’m not convinced it aged my wine “five years in 10 seconds.” (Though I’m not sure this shitty bottle of wine would have benefited much from five years of ageing. It was, after all, very cheap.)