A decanter is a container for wine or some other type of alcoholic beverage. Before wine and whiskey decanters started being made using dishwasher-safe glass, decanters were traditionally highly ornamental barware made out of crystal or heavy lead glass.
What is a decanter used for?
Originally, glass or crystal vessels were used with deep red wines, or clarets, that contained an unusual amount of sediment, which can happen when a claret is an older vintage or when it is not clarified before it is placed in a bottle. Glass and crystal wine decanters have since served a mostly decorative function when serving wines or other beverages.
Experts suggest that some attempt is made to aerate wine in order to achieve the best taste because oxidation allows for the release of its herbaceous and floral aromatics. Decanter bottles have an aerating effect on wine that may be particularly beneficial with wines that contain a lot of tannins, like cabernet sauvignon. Red wines tend to be decanted more frequently than white wines.
Many connoisseurs also like to serve whiskey, scotch, and other types of liquor in glass and crystal containers. Whiskey decanters are primarily decorative. Many of these sturdy decanters sport a stopper that can be tightly twisted to keep the alcohol content of the whiskey from evaporating out of the glass bottle.
What factors should one think about when buying a decanter?
When you’re purchasing a decanter or carafe, consider whether you will use it with red wine or spirits. Wine decanters typically have very wide bottoms to facilitate optimal aeration. Wine decanters with wide necks will also help the oxygenation process while wine decanters with thinner necks are better for separating out sediment.
Other factors to consider when choosing a wine decanter bottle are:
- Material: Genuine crystal decanters tend to be more ornate than glass decanters, but they’re also more delicate. Glass can be easier to maintain since you can place it in your dishwasher. A bottle with a wide, straight neck will also be easier to clean than bottles with exceptionally narrow or curved necks.
- Size: Your decanter’s volume should be large enough to hold the contents of a single bottle of wine.
- Wine variety: There are wine decanters that are designed for specific types of wine. Designers have engineered the shapes of these decanter bottles to facilitate each wine’s specific aeration requirements. You’ll find glass and crystal vessels specifically marketed for cabernet, Syrah, and merlot as well as other types of wine.