connor roy 2020

Wait, ‘Hyperdecanting’ Wine Isn’t Just a Succession Joke?

Photo: HBO

Connor Roy, the most ineffectual Succession sibling, has some questionable beliefs. Cryogenics, for one. The belief that masturbation — the “spilling of good seed,” as he calls it — is one of the greatest problems facing the nation. Belief in himself as a viable candidate for president. You get the idea. But this week’s episode of Succession showed us a new quirk of the Roy family’s black sheep when Connor espoused the virtues of blended wine. Not a screw-top red blend from the bodega, but the virtues of literally blending your wine. In a blender. Connor calls it “hyperdecanting,” and chastises Shiv for not keeping up with the program: “I hyperdecant. You don’t hyperdecant? You’re just doing regular decanting?”

Despite what it sounds like, hyperdecanting isn’t just a fictional concept cooked up by the one editor and five interns at Vaulter’s food vertical. No, it’s an actual concept cooked up by former Microsoft CTO and Intellectual Ventures co-founder Nathan Myhrvold, the author of the Modernist Cuisine cookbook, which retails on Amazon for a Succession-esque $505.91.

Sadly, Myhrvold turned down our interview request, but in a 2011 article for Bloomberg Businessweek, he wrote about the method:

Wine lovers have known for centuries that decanting wine before serving it often improves its flavor. 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.”

Although torturing an expensive wine in this way may cause sensitive oenophiles to avert their eyes, Myhrvold claims it almost invariably improves red wines — particularly younger ones, but even a 1982 Château Margaux.

A West Coast ex-tech guy “disrupting” traditional ways of doing things is very on-brand for Connor, so of course he’s into it. But does anyone actually hyperdecant IRL? Are we missing out by “just doing regular decanting?” After all, Connor seems pretty confident in a kitchen. We asked Zwann Grays, the wine director behind Brooklyn favorites Olmsted and Maison Yaki, if she had ever encountered hyperdecanting in professional oenophile circles. Alas, Grays said that she had “never seen that or heard that from anyone, actually,” and we immediately felt embarrassed about foisting one of Connor’s proclivities on an actual wine professional.

Connor tells Shiv that she should hyperdecant because “it softens the tannins, ages the aromas. You can age your wines five years in ten seconds, truly.” Is there any merit to these claims? Grays considered it: “No. Wine is a delicate thing. You wouldn’t necessarily shake a martini because it quote unquote ‘bruises the gin’ — that’s what comes to mind when I think about wine in a blender, it being beat up and bruised and just too aerated. I’m trying to imagine what that would taste like. I feel like all of that aggression would probably make it more aggressive, actually, on the palate.”

As Connor puts it, “the old shibboleths are dying,” but he was so preoccupied with whether he could put perfectly fine Burgundy in a blender, he didn’t stop to think if he should. Grays said she wouldn’t advise it, “unless for the sake of experimentation. For fun with friends. But ideally, no.” She added, “Does it sound far fetched? Yes it does. Does it sound like something that’s … not going to taste good? Yeah! But again, you know, why not try it?”

In honor of the Waystar Royco retreat in Sunday’s episode, Grays also offered some wine suggestions to pair with “boar on the floor” sausages: Hungarian wine from Tokaj, Old World reds from Serbia or Croatia, or something with “lots of body and spicy, tannic structure.” For those of us watching Succession at home, Grays suggested a fizzy pét-nat or “something high-low.” But not Burgundy in a Magic Bullet. “Ugh, it just hurts my heart!”

Wait, ‘Hyperdecanting’ Wine Isn’t Just a Succession Joke?