How Do I Choose the Best Wine Decanter?

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  • Written By: K. Allen
  • Edited By: Amanda L. Wardle
  • Last Modified Date: 05 June 2018
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The presentation value of decanting wine can add to the atmosphere of an occasion, but that is not the most important reason for doing it. The taste of wine, especially red wines, is greatly enhanced when allowed to aerate, or breathe, before being served. This makes choosing a wine decanter a combination of form and function. The best choice will be one that provides the proper amount of surface area, allowing adequate oxygen exchange, and, at the same time, has a shape and design that fits with the surrounding d├ęcor. In addition, since antique and fine crystal decanters can cost thousands of dollars, budget restraints should also be considered.

Many people take great pleasure in serving wine to their friends and family. Some are true connoisseurs or oenophiles, the Greek word for "lover of wine." It is common for these individuals to collect different types of decanters and wine equipment. For most, however, there is usually only the need for one wine decanter designed for the type of wine normally served.


It is the design of the wine decanter that determines its suitability for the type of wine. The younger the wine, for example, the more tannins present. This then requires a vessel with a larger bowl area to facilitate the greatest amount of surface space for aeration. A taller, narrower container will aerate at a much slower rate and is considered more appropriate for softer, less tannic wines. The shape and angle of the neck allow for controlled pouring as well as a unique look.

Decanting is often believed to only be necessary for older, red wines. This is because they are more apt to have sediment, which are small bits of yeast and grape skins that settle during aging. The longer a wine is aged, the more sediment accumulation. Actually, though, all types and ages of wine can contain particulates and can benefit from decanting.

White wine can contain tartrate crystals. Under extremely cold conditions, these form when tartaric acid combines with the potassium found in wine. While one would expect better wines to have less tartrates, the opposite is true. Although tartrate crystals are tasteless and odorless, they are not aesthetically appealing and can be removed by decanting. To do this, the same wine decanter that is used for red wine will work just fine by simply adding the step of slowing pouring through a funnel and screen.



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