Kristen Hicks on May 30, 2016 1 Comment Everything You Need to Know When Buying A Wine Decanter Table of Contents What Is A Decanter? The Benefits of Decanting Wine Types of Wine Decanters Factors to Consider While Shopping Popular Wine Decanter Brands When you’re young and just learning about wine, decanters may seem like a silly indulgence. What does pouring your wine into a separate container actually do? But then the first time you try wine that’s been decanted, you realize it really does make a difference. As you move toward appreciating the complexity of flavors and aromas that wine offers, decanting becomes an obvious way to truly get the best tasting experience from your favorite bottle of wine. What Is A Decanter? A wine decanter is serving vessel commonly utilized for liquids to undergo the process of decantation. While they are commonly used for red wine, decanters are also frequently used for whisky, bourbon, cognac, scotch and other liquors. For wine, decanters serve two main purposes: Aeration Decanters provide the opportunity for your wine to become exposed to air before you drink it. That exposure helps bring out more of the flavors within your wine, resulting in a better tasting glass and one in which you can taste all the complexities the winemaker intended. Separating Sediment As wines age, often sediments collect. When you decant your wine, the sediments sink to the bottom of the decanter so you’re just getting the liquid when you sip from your glass. This separation not only improves the clarity of your wine, but also softens your wine and reduces its overall bitterness. Click Here To Shop For A Wine Decanter The Benefits of Decanting Wine Some people swear by decanters for their ability to make cheaper wines taste better. Others consider them an important part of the process of drinking and enjoying an expensive, aged bottle. Basically, no matter the wine you’re drinking, there’s a good chance that pouring it in a decanter before you drink it can improve the flavor. As an added bonus, many wine decanters are simply gorgeous. They make for a nice addition to any kitchen and are nice to have around when you want to show off when hosting guests. They’re functional and attractive and tend to add an air of sophistication to any gathering. Types of Wine Decanters Wine decanters come in a number of shapes, many of them designed for aesthetics as much as function. But one of the main features that relates to use is the neck of the decanter. Wide Neck Decanters If your main goal is aeration, then wide neck decanters are recommended. They allow more oxygen in so the wine aerates faster and more effectively. They’re also easier to clean than thin neck versions. Wide neck decanters are the most popular type and will work well for most wine drinkers. Thin Neck Decanters Thin neck decanters aren’t quite as good for aeration, since the thin neck lets less air in. They can also be a real pain to clean. You usually have to buy a special brush and cleaning beads to be able to give them a good cleaning. But, they’re very useful for separating the wine out from the sediment. When using a thin neck decanter, you want to pour your wine in slowly and gently with a light source nearby, watching the bottle as you go so you can spot any sediment and stop pouring when you see it to keep it from getting through. This is a more complicated process than simply pouring it in for aeration and one that’s not necessary for most wines, but important for expensive wines that have been aged. For the serious wine collector that wants to make sure that expensive bottle tastes just right and doesn’t include any sediment, a thin-necked decanter is a smart investment. Factors to Consider When Buying a Wine Decanter For a fairly simple item, you’d be surprised how much there is to take into account when buying a wine decanter. Here are some of the most important factors to be aware of in order to identify the best wine decanter for your needs. Price You can find simple wine decanters for under $20, while more elaborate models can cost hundreds. For many wine lovers who primarily care about aeration, you can find a wide range of wine decanters in the $20-$60 range that will suit you just fine. If you want something more stylish or better adept at separating out the sediment for fine, aged wines, then it may be worth investing in one of the higher end models. After all, if you’ve made the choice to make a serious investment in wine, then making sure all the associated accessories you own are up to par is well worth it. Size Most wine decanters are sized to fit one bottle of wine. You can find some that are large enough to fit more than one bottle, some only small enough for a glass at a time, and others that fall somewhere in between. For most buyers, wine decanters that fit a single bottle will be the most practical option. Smaller decanters come in handy for those who don’t want to risk not finishing a bottle in one evening – if the wine sits in the decanter too long, it turns to acid. Larger decanters can come in handy when you’ll be hosting a lot of people at once and want to be able to keep the decanted wine flowing, but keep in mind that you’ll be reducing the surface area of the wine exposed when you use one decanter for a larger quantity of wine, so it likely won’t aerate as quickly or effectively. Shape Wine decanters come in many shapes. One of the top concerns you should have when considering what shape to go with is how much surface area the decanter will provide for the wine. Many are designed specifically to spread out the wine, so to speak, so a lot of it gets access to air. In addition, you should think about whether the shape will make the wine challenging to pour without dripping – obviously you don’t want to make a mess or waste wine. And finally, make sure to choose a shape you like the look of. Look Speaking of looks, many higher-end wine decanters are designed to be visually stunning. You can buy a wine decanter that’s purely functional, or you can seek out one that works as both a work of art and a wine decanter. Even simpler models are often beautiful, especially once filled with deep red wine. But if you really want to find a wine decanter that brings some aesthetic zest to your home, then spend some time browsing your options to see what jumps out at you. Material Wine decanters are pretty much always made of glass, since with most other materials you’d risk adding some unwanted flavor to the wine. Some of the higher end decanters are made of delicate crystal glass. These tend to be more expensive and may break more easily if you’re not careful, but they’re also more ornate and decorative for those with refined tastes. Wine Type and Age While generally speaking, decanting your wine in any decanter is better than not doing it, some are made to be ideal for specific types of wine. You can find decanters marketed as being for merlot, cabernet, and syrah, to name a few. All of these are fine to use with any wine, but if you especially tend toward one type, it may be worth seeking out a decanter specially designed with that type of wine in mind. As already discussed, aged red wines often require a somewhat more complicated decanting process than younger wines. When your concern is more about sediment than aeration, thin-necked decanters may be your best bet since they don’t provide as much surface area so your wine can maintain a flavor closer to the one it had in the bottle after decanting. Ease of Cleaning Many people insist that decanters are best cleaned without the use of your typical kitchen soap. If you don’t do a good enough job of rinsing it out, then the soap will affect the flavor of your wine, which is obviously best avoided. Instead, there are special types of glass cleaner you can buy, brushes designed to fit through the neck of a wine decanter and stretch so that they reach the wider base as well, and decanter cleaning beads that can be used to get to any spots you can’t reach otherwise. As the previous paragraph makes clear, cleaning your wine decanter thoroughly can be a bit of an involved process. Consider how the shape of your decanter might make the job harder or easier as you’re comparing different models, especially if you know you’re the kind of person to begrudge a difficult cleaning process. And keep an eye out for dishwasher-safe decanters, which can make the cleaning process much easier. Ease of Pouring Every time you use a decanter, you’ll be pouring from it. If your wine decanter is hard to pour and you find you always make a mess with it, you may end up feeling it’s not worth the trouble. When you’re browsing your options, look for a wine decanter that doesn’t appear very complicated to pour from without dripping or spilling, and see what customer reviews have to say on the subject. Extra Features to Consider: Handblown — Some of the fancier wine decanters on the market are hand-blown. If you want something more decorative, a hand-blown wine decanter can add a nice touch. Break Resistant — Are you a klutz? How about after drinking a few glasses? Many wine decanters are made of extremely delicate glass and break or chip easily. If that’s not for you, look for one that’s break resistant. Dishwasher Safe — Cleaning your decanter is much easier if you have the option of putting it into the dishwasher. Stopper — If you leave wine in your decanter overnight without a stopper, you can expect it to go bad in 12-18 hours. A stopper helps your decanted wine last longer. Chilling Decanter — While red wines are the most popular type to decant, white wines can also benefit. Chilling decanters allow you to decant your white wines and keep them cold at the same time. Popular Wine Decanter Brands With many brands on the decanter market to choose between, it’s nice to have an idea of their reputations going into your search so you can narrow your options down. To provide you with a summary of what customers think of each of the main decanter brands, we looked at reviews of their decanters online. Epicureanist Epicureanist sells a few wine decanters and related accessories for cleaning and storing your decanter. Their most popular one, a decanter with an ice cup that doubles as a wine chiller to keep your wine nice and cool, earns mostly strong reviews from customers who find it beautiful and classy. A couple of reviewers warn that it’s very delicate though and will break easily if you’re not careful with it. Fusion Fusion offers wine decanters in a few different styles that customers are mostly happy with. Reviewers say they’re well designed and the price is right. Several also mentioned appreciating that their decanters are break resistant, since they’ve had problems with other decanters that break easily. Metrokane Metrokane sells combo aerator/decanters that customers consistently love. They’re praised for being beautiful, easy to use, and offering a nice presentation. Many mentioned that their decanters make great gifts and are good for anyone that likes to entertain. Riedel Riedel is one of the best-known names in wine decanters. Customers consistently talk about how beautiful their decanters are in their reviews. Many of their decanters have a simple design at a relatively affordable price, but those looking for something with a more unique, artistic style can find more high-end decanters from them as well. The main complaint that comes up for some of their decanters is that they can be hard to clean. Almost all of the different decanters they offer though earn primarily four and five star reviews. Their brand reputation in the space is stellar. Schott Zweisel Schott Zweisel makes a number of attractive wine decanters that get points from reviewers for being sturdy and elegant. Multiple reviewers mention that the decanters have a great design for ensuring the wine gets plenty of air to be properly decanted. Spiegalau Spiegelau sells a range of wine decanters that earn positive reviews for being durable, elegant, and effective at improving the wine. If you’re worried about ending up with an overly delicate decanter that will break or chip easily, customers sound confident that Spiegalau won’t give you anything to worry about. Wine Enthusiast Wine Enthusiast’s wine decanters are popular with customers who say they’re of decent quality and are a good value for the cost. A few do mention in reviews that they’re hard to pour or drip, but most of those reviewers still rate them high overall. In general, their reputation for making affordable decanters is solid. Conclusion Decanting isn’t just for sommeliers and connoisseurs, it can improve the flavor of wines at all price points, while also making you look like a more sophisticated host. They can double as a piece of art for your home, or simply be a functional tool for when you’re getting ready to pour a glass. Whichever route you choose to go, a wine decanter is a useful item to own for anyone who appreciates a good glass of wine.