The 10 Best Wine Decanters
Finally, it separates sediment that is commonly found in older, tannic red wines.
The decanter also doubles as a serving vessel with an impressive presentation.
The wine decanter has existed on Earth for thousands of years to achieve one purpose: make wine better. The decanter's mission is to aerate the wine, which enhances it by releasing its aroma and flavor. The decanter also doubles as a serving vessel with an impressive presentation. Finally, it separates sediment that is commonly found in older, tannic red wines. Aged Bordeaux wines, for instance, would hugely benefit from decantation.
Whether the wine decanter is essential for a consumer is a matter of your wine drinking habits. The decanter is almost exclusively used for red wines served at room temperature. If you are a creature of habit who imbibes solely on white wines, the decanter might not be for you. As seen on our list, white wines are rarely decanted. Buying one without using it for red wines would be a waste.
Here is the science behind the magic that is the decanter. The wine is poured into the decanter that has a large base. The wide shape is intentional; to cultivate a wider surface area for the wine to get oxygen. That explains the unique shape of decanters. The small controlled amount of oxygen that gets into the wine can help release the tightness, and open up the bouquet and aromas, but prolonged exposure will turn a robust wine stale and flat. The decanter is not a storage vessel, meaning wine decanted should be consumed in one sitting. This is especially beneficial for Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, which are more delicate.
The poor man's version of decanting a wine is simply swirling it in your glass, which some will argue has the same effect as a decanter. Others will argue that this is safer; decanting the whole bottle will add too much oxygen, thus ruining the precious ambrosia.
Function Versus Form
Although the purpose and design are both simple, the wine decanter can boast some variety. The vessel itself is usually made from glass or crystal to show off the beautiful dark red color of wine.
While the material is clearly for aesthetics, you should remember that clear glass will not protect the wine from harsh light which can destroy flavor profiles. Do not expose your decanted wine to sunlight or strong overhead light fixtures. This is also the reason that red wines come in dark green bottles; to protect the liquid from UV rays.
The more oxygen that gets exposed, the less time needed for the wine to decant.
The base is more stable than a bottle of wine, and less prone to be knocked over in the heat of the festivities. The vessel is usually large enough to hold the contents of a standard bottle of wine; 750ml. The wide base is designed to expose the surface area to oxygen, as previously discussed. The more oxygen that gets exposed, the less time needed for the wine to decant. The moral of the story is that you get to drink delicious wine faster!
The largest disparity in price of the decanter will be determined by the design. The duck decanter which is number three on our list, for instance, is at least five times the cost than its counterparts with no improvement of functionality. If in a pinch, you can decant in a mason jar if you so choose. The design aspect is part of the allure of wine culture, and presentational skills.
A stopper may be included to close off oxygen from the decanter. This is useful for storage, or other liquors such as expensive whiskeys which can benefit from decantation. However, unlike liquor, it is recommended to consume the wine decanted in the same sitting. The freshness of wine subsides very shortly; stopper or not.
A Brief History of the Wine Decanter
The vast history of wine consumption goes hand in hand with serving the wine. Since Roman antiquity, servants used a decanter to easily pour and serve their wealthy patrons and guests. The Romans were also the first to pioneer glass for the vessel. As the Roman Empire fell, so did glass, and due to its scarcity lead and bronze replaced glass as the primary material.
The vast history of wine consumption goes hand in hand with serving the wine.
A thousand years later, the Renaissance introduced the glass decanter once again. This also made it easier to see what was in the wine, and the wine produced hundreds of years ago consisted of much more sediment than today's wine.
As winemaking has improved in recent years, many argue the need for a decanter is not justified. Less wines today will produce a large amount of sediment, thus eliminating the need for this luxury item.
That being said, the decanter tends to be a wedding gift favorite, so you most likely will encounter one at your next nuptial function. As a simply rule of thumb; decant old wines for air and sediment, young wines for presentation. One can argue that the decanter is simply a luxury item and non-essential for the average wine consumer, and I will not disagree. I will however mention that a simply designed affordable model will perform that the same standards as the more pricier options. Spend wisely. Cheers!