What surprises many wine enthusiasts is the lack of proper red wine aeration in even some of the finest restaurants across America. Many times when you order a fine red wine in a elegant restaurant the waiter will ask if you would like to allow the wine breathe before you drink it. If you reply yes they will simply remove the cork from your selection and walk away. This will not get enough contact between the air and the contents of the bottle.
To properly aerate that red wine you should ask the waiter to decant the wine. Wine decanters create more surface area for the air and wine to come in contact. If properly decanted, it will remove any sediment that has accumulated during the aging process as well as aerating it for the best flavor.
The problem that many dinners will find is even in a fine establishment if you ask to have that wine decanted more often than not the waiter does not know how and they do not have any wine decanters on site to do so. The misconception is so high that uncorking is sufficient that most do not stock decanters to do this properly. If this is the case than at least pour your selection into the glasses and allow it to sit there a few minutes before drinking.