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If you're looking to take your wine-drinking experience to the next level, you're going to need a wine decanter and aerator. These special devices will enhance the taste and aroma of your wine while also serving as a stunning centerpiece on your table. Not sure where to start? Check out our product reviews and in-depth buyer's guide below! We'll help you get started on your journey to serving the perfect glass of wine.
This hand-blown wine decanter from Le Chateau tops our list of the best wine decanters, backed up by hundreds of satisfied wine lovers. The simple yet elegant design is not only visually appealing but effective in aerating your drink as well. The result? Enhanced flavor and aroma, making for a more enjoyable experience all around.
The YouYah Iceberg Wine Decanter is simply stunning to look at while simultaneously being optimized for aerating your wine. The stopper is specially designed to oxygenate the wine more, so your drink will aerate faster than your run-of-the-mill decanter. Artistic and efficient? YouYah shows that that's all possible at a reasonable price!
The Bella Vino Wine Decanter is a fun decanter to liven up any space. Its fun design makes pouring and decanting wine a breeze, so you can have a fun and effortless wine experience with your friends, all at a great low price.
If you're like most people who enjoy the occasional glass of wine, you probably pour it directly from the bottle to the glass. However, if you adhere to Robert Louis Stevenson's belief that "wine is bottled poetry," you're bound to appreciate the many benefits of using a wine decanter. Read on to learn more about the purpose of these useful tools, including tips about which features you should look for when shopping for one.
What exactly is a wine decanter? As the name suggests, it's a vessel used for the dispensation of wine. But they do add more than a decorative touch. A proper decanter can also serve as a wine aerator and pourer, which helps to release the full flavor of the grapes. When used properly, the decanter will also keep any excess sediment from entering the glass.
As a rule of thumb, highly tannic red wines (like Cabernet Sauvignon) should be decanted, as they'll benefit most from the aeration process. By contrast, wines made from delicate grapes like Pinot Noir may actually lose flavor if they're exposed to too much oxygen.
What about white wines? These don't usually require decanting, although the process isn't likely to harm the flavor, either. Since most people tend to serve white wines too cold (they should be removed from the fridge about 10 minutes before serving), removing the wine from the bottle could help bring it to the proper temperature. Also, white wines that have aged (like a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape) can sometimes taste slightly funky when they first leave the bottle. In these cases, the aeration greatly benefits the flavor.
If you're a fan of sparkling wines, the same general rules apply: For young wines, a decanter isn't necessary and will cause the lively bubbles to die down quite a bit. The bubbles in finely aged sparkling wine, on the other hand, will have a more delicate mouthfeel to begin with, so it's perfectly acceptable to use a decanter for these varieties.
Pour the wine slowly from the bottle, ensuring that it touches the inner sides of the decanter as it enters the vessel. If there's a great deal of sediment on the bottom of the wine bottle, slow your pour so that these deposits remain behind. Swirl the decanter to further aerate the wine and open up the flavors.
For best results, wait at least an hour before serving the wine. The more full-bodied the wine is, the longer the waiting period should be.
Now that you understand what a decanter is and when it will be most useful, let's explore the materials that are most often used in their construction. Fortunately, it's a short list, since a decanter made of anything but glass would impart unwanted flavors to the wine. The question is, which is a better choice: standard glass or crystal?
Wine decanters made of standard glass tend to have thicker walls and a more streamlined appearance than their crystal counterparts. They're also usually dishwasher safe, so if this is a concern, standard glass should be a good fit.
Additionally, if you prefer your decanter lead free, you won't have to worry about that with glass models. It is possible to buy lead-free crystal decanters, however—just be sure to check the label or manufacturer's website before finalizing a purchase.
A crystal wine decanter makes an elegant table centerpiece as the material can be shaped into more elaborate designs than standard glass. Crystal is also more durable, but because of this, it's bound to be more costly as well.
While it may give you peace of mind to ensure that your crystal wine decanter is lead free, know that only an infinitesimal amount of lead can enter the wine during a standard decanting time frame. If you've left the wine in a crystal decanter for longer than a few days, however, it's safest to discard it. This is why more people are opting for lead-free crystal.
Here's a rundown of the features that you should be on the lookout for when shopping for a wine decanter. As we break down the different categories, we'll provide tips on which types are best suited for specific wines, as well as any red flags you should be aware of.
First and foremost, you'll want to select a product that fits your budget. While wine decanters can be had for as low as $20, you should probably expect to spend between $40 and $60 if you're looking for a decent one. It's not really necessary to spend more than that (although it's certainly possible). As long as the wine receives sufficient oxygenation, the dollar amount doesn't really matter.
When it comes to shape, there's a lot more to consider than the aesthetic appeal—though you should definitely look for a decanter that's visually appealing to you, as you'll be the one using it. What you want is a vessel with a wide mouth for receiving and pouring the wine and a wide base to allow the wine to breathe as much as possible. This is especially important if you'll be using the decanter primarily for hearty red wines, which will benefit most from the aeration. Finally, beware of especially angular shapes or tricky-looking spouts—you want to ensure a smooth pour when it's time to start serving.
If you're planning to invest a great deal in your wine collection and have real money to spend on a high-end decanter, take your time browsing through the selections. These models qualify as artwork rather than mere kitchen tools, so make sure to choose a design that will take your dining area to the next level. Just be sure to follow the basic rules outlined in the Shape section above. You don't want to spend a small fortune on a wine decanter, only to find out that it's impractical for use.
There's no question about it—large wine decanters are very impressive-looking. If you routinely host a large number of people, it might be tempting to invest in a larger size to ensure that you won't run out halfway through dinner. However, when you pour more than one bottle into a decanter, less of the wine is exposed to the air, so it may not aerate as effectively. The most efficient decanters are the ones designed to hold a single bottle of wine at a time. Fortunately, these are also the most common, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding one.
The neck of a wine decanter may be either wide or narrow, depending on the size and design of the model. Wide necks allow for more oxygenation, which gives them the edge in terms of popularity. They also make the decanter far easier to clean, another plus.
However, if your main goal is to separate the wine from the sediment, a thin-necked decanter is a better choice. Because the opening is narrower, the wine will enter the decanter more slowly, allowing you to stop pouring if it looks like too much residue is getting in. This is especially important for aged red wines, which often have a great deal of sediment. However, the thin neck also makes cleanup more difficult, so if you invest in this type of decanter, it's best to have a set of sturdy long-handled brushes on hand.
Some decanters are explicitly marketed for certain varieties. It's not at all unusual to find models labeled "Wine Decanter for Syrah" or "Cabernet Sauvignon Decanter," to name just a few. If there's a variety you tend to buy exclusively (or at least more than any other), you might appreciate narrowing your search to models that are geared toward a specific grape or blend. Others will probably do better with a decanter that is well-suited to a broad spectrum of wines, especially since the differences are likely to be negligible anyway.
In addition to being difficult to pour from, decanters with complex shapes can also be problematic when it's time for them to be washed. It's especially important that all the soap be rinsed out. Otherwise, the taste of your next bottle could be adversely affected or even ruined. Keep that in mind when a particularly elaborate decanter catches your eye. If you absolutely must have it, invest in a set of special brushes to make cleanup easier.
On the subject of cleanup, if you know you won't relish scrubbing out the decanter every time wine is served, consider narrowing your search to decanters made out of dishwasher-safe materials. While it may limit your options, it might also make your selection easier.
Delicate hand-blown wine decanters are lovely to look at, but the reality of serving wine from a fragile glass vessel can be anything but. To gauge whether you should invest in a break-resistant model instead, think about how many wine glasses you've inadvertently broken in the past year or so. If the number is high, then break-resistant glass should be on your short list of desirable features.
Some wine decanters come equipped with a stopper, so it isn't necessary to drain all of the contents in one sitting. If your household routinely leaves a glass or two in the bottle at the end of the night, then a stoppered model will prevent your wine from spoiling.
You don't have to be a hard-core wine enthusiast to appreciate the benefits of a wine decanter. Even casual wine drinkers are bound to notice the difference between a serving that's poured directly from the bottle and a properly aerated glass. No matter which type of decanter you choose, your journey toward a broader, more flavorful wine experience begins today.