Have you ever heard about decanters? Well, have you ever had wine? There you go – decanters are primarily used in the storage of wine so that it can go through the process of decantation.
The most common use of a decanter is for the storage and serving of wine, particularly red wine. But other liquors such as whiskey, cognac, bourbon, and scotch also make use of decanters.
Some people believe that decanters are there for just the aesthetics they bring to the table. This isn’t true. Decanters have the amazing ability to actually improve your wine experience by improving the wine’s taste.
They are especially helpful for beginners who want to get rid of that harsh flavor that most wines have since they aren’t yet used to it.
We’ll look into this in more detail when we go through the uses of decanters.
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Wine has been consumed in its various forms for thousands of years. They were initially stored and served in clay pots. A time came when consumers realized that clay pots weren’t the best choice for wine because they tend to absorb the flavor, turning the wine into vinegar.
The history of glass decanters dates back to 5000 B.C when they were first used in Syria. But it was not until the era of the Roman Empire that decanters became common.
From then on, glass decanters became the de facto storage container for wines. However, after the fall of the Roman Empire, people switched to silver, clay or bronze decanters and glass was no longer used until the period of Renaissance.
During the Renaissance, the version of the decanter with the long neck opening to a wide-body was first introduced. Such a shape not only refines the appearance of a decanter but also serves two important functions. The wide opening of the decanter exposes a larger volume of wine to oxygen, which on one hand, allows the release of the wine’s aroma, and on the other, improves its flavors.
However, it was soon found that extensive oxygen exposure was causing the wine to deteriorate quickly. Therefore the eighteenth-century British wineries incorporated stopped-in wine decanters to reduce the amount of oxygen in the containers.
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Overview of Modern Day Decanters
Contemporary wine decanters are pretty attractive, usually tall and ornate that may or may not comprise of a lid or stopper. Certain wine decanters also possess a built-in rod to facilitate the process of decantation. Most are made of glass and are tall and upright to exhibit the decantation process.
Among the most widely used material for glass, decanters are lead crystal, which surprisingly is not recommended anymore because lead from the vessel escapes into the wine as it ages.
Then why is lead crystal so popular? The creation of lead crystal involves the addition of lead oxide to molten gas to produce the lead glass that augments the refraction index over that of a normal glass. This gives the decanter a more sparkly look than ordinary glass.
Nonetheless, lead crystal can cause lead poisoning. People tend to neglect the fact, believing that the lead particles that might be seeping into the wine are too little to harm anyone. If you think about it rationally, most people keep using a vessel for years which is more than enough to pile up a substantial amount of lead to pose health risks.
The most important factor that differentiates different decanters is their neck, which serves both to enhance aesthetics as well as functionality. If you are concerned more about the aeration function, decanters characterized by wide necks are ideal for you. They enable more air to enter the vessel to accelerate and maximize wine aeration. They’re easier to clean than those with thin necks. As a result, wide neck decanters are more widely used.
On the other hand, thin necked decanters are more useful if you prefer expensive, aged wines. The main reason behind this is their incredible ability to separate the wine from bitter sediment. For expensive wines, mere aeration isn’t enough to optimize the value of spent money. Removing the sediment is crucial to ensure you get the right taste. However, thin necked decanters don’t offer the best aeration. Moreover, special brushes or cleaning beads are required to ensure proper cleaning.
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Many consumers just prefer wine decanters to enjoy drinking in a lavish, attractive bottle and thus consider them an important part of the drinking process. While decanters may or may not add value to your lifestyle, they can certainly improve the wine taste.
Wine decanters not only add class and depth to your wine bar but also improve the flavor and aroma of the wine. Given the nature of wine, it must be decanted in order to enjoy the best from it.
The process of decantation involves pouring the liquor from another container into the decanter, separating the larger volume of relatively clear liquid from a smaller volume of sediment-packed liquid. As an outcome of decantation, you get to consume clear liquor obtained in the decanter as the unwanted sediment is left behind in the original container. In a different scenario, sediments also collect within your decanter as the wine gets older, and sink to the bottom, allowing you to sip the only clear liquid in the decanter. Additionally, it also helps to soften the wine as well as remove its bitterness.
An ideal decantation process demands that wine be dripped down along the walls of the decanter so as to enhance the wine flavor as well as remove the unpleasant edge of the wine.
Furthermore, another important function of decantation is the aeration which refers to exposing the wine to oxygen as mentioned earlier. If you allow for this before drinking, it would help open up more flavors within the wine. In this way, you’d probably get to enjoy all the complexities of your wine. Thus, give your wine some chance to breathe by pouring it in a decanter. To make it even better, leave the wine open in an unsealed glass wine decanter.
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Let’s now explore the different types of decanters based on their shapes, sizes, materials or use:
Types of Decanters
Vodka is one of the most consumed spirits around the globe and can be made anywhere. In order to maintain the elegant feeling induced by high-end vodka, it is important to serve it in a specialized vodka decanter. When looking to buy a vodka decanter, close attention should be paid to the design and functionality of the decanter.
When it comes to vodka, the quality of the stopper or lid is extremely important to prevent the spirit from evaporating. Hence, in a vodka decanter, the stopper is fitted perfectly on the decanter to ensure an airtight seal. Vodka decanters are also characterized by thick glass that helps to chill the vodka. Thin glass isn’t suitable because when it gets cold, it is easily breakable. Thus, vodka decanters have thick walls and a flat base.
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Chiseled Sides Decanter
If you like to personalize the decanters, the chiseled-sides decanter is the best choice for you. It provides an amazing option to engrave your name and year in the form of beautiful seal design. Commonly used for whiskey and vintage spirits, it is a handsome decanter that appears masculine and regal. It’s an ideal choice to place in a modern home. Measuring 10.75 inches tall, 5 inches wide and a capacity of 23 ounces of liquor, the decanter is sure to attract a lot of guests to your home.
Novelty decanters are mainly used for whiskey, vodka, and grin. They come in various shapes and sizes. Two most admired shapes are:
Grenade decanter is made in the shape of a hand grenade and is commonly used for serving whiskey. It comprises of a natural cork stopper to preserve your spirit and is made up of sturdy glass. The shape is inspired by the military and is commonly bought to gift soldiers and other military individuals. They are 8.5 inches tall and have a diameter of 4 inches. Hand washing is the best way to keep it sparkling.
Skull decanters create an eerie feel with an intriguing floating glass skull in it. They’re made of solid glass and contain a glass stopper with a rubber base. This helps preserve the flavor as well as the aroma of any sort of spirit. They are perfect for servings at Halloween parties and also help to bring dull gatherings to life. They’re approximately 10.5 inches tall, have a base of around 3.75 inches and a capacity to hold 33 ounces. Hand washing is best for these.
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Gin decanter is used for storing and serving gin. Gin is normally colorless with some varieties having delicate golden or blue hues. To enhance these subtle hues, gin decanters are made of un-textured glass that has a magnifying effect. The glass used in clear and lead-free and the decanter is square-shaped. Some gin decanters also possess delicate cuts in the glass to improve the appearance of the liquor. It comes with a glass stopper and measures 8.25 inches tall and 3.5 inches wide. With a capacity to hold 26 ounces of alcohol, it serves as a perfect gift for gin drinkers. Also, it can be personalized with your name engraved on it.
Dedicated Tequila Decanter
If you host a lot of parties, you should definitely have a dedicated tequila decanter. The decanter is specially used for tequila spirit. Given the strong and intense flavor of tequila, the aeration provided by this decanter takes away much of the bitterness. Its premium Italian glass and the engraved traditional tequila design give it an extraordinary look despite being average priced.
Tequila decanter includes the customization option to have your name and year engraved onto it and is often used to gift tequila lovers. It typically measures 10.75 inches tall and holds 23 ounces of liquor.
Gently twisted Decanter
Gently twisted decanter has a crystal bottle with a gently twisted shape that looks pretty elegant. It is commonly used to gift in a wedding or anniversary. It exhibits a sleek and sexy look through a refined glass and has the option to engrave a single initial.
This beautiful decanter is totally lead-free and is more suited to serve scotch, bourbon, and whiskey. It is made using thick, durable glass and what sets it apart from ordinary decanters is its curved shape. The decanter is 11 inches tall and 4 inches wide and has the capacity to hold 30.4 ounces of liquor.
Tall, Gold-Trimmed Decanter
The tall, gold-trimmed decanter appears a generously sized vessel but efficiently saves space on the shelf. The decanter is thin, yet pretty striking because of its tall length. It elegantly stands out in any bar or dining table. It also comprises of gold leaf plating around its base to bring a golden touch.
The tall, gold-trimmed decanter also contains a strong glass stopper and the overall size of the decanter measures 13 inches tall, holding 650 ml of liquor.
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If you wish to please your guests with the elegance and style of your home bar, you should include the square glass decanter. It is meant to give any bar a vintage vibe through its antique cut that used to be a symbol of luxury for hundreds of years. Until the 20th century though, only round-shaped decanters were made with this symbol. If you’re looking for the same nostalgic touch with a modern-day twist, an intricately cut square-shaped decanter is for you.
The decanter potentially serves to elevate your decanting experience and allows you to enjoy your favorite scotch as it decants.
Moreover, no matter where you place this crystal liquor decanter, its classic diamond cut would enable the golden radiance to shine through. It is made from lead crystal, measures 10 inches tall and holds 750 ml of liquor.
The globe-shaped decanter is a round world shaped decanter that offers a perfect gift for travel lovers. The globe includes a world continents engraved on it and the base of the decanter allows for the globe to spin. The shape is pretty much eye-catching and spinning enables ideal aeration to promote the hidden aromas and flavors of your spirit. It is primarily useful for decanting bourbon, rum, gin, vodka or whiskey.
The vessel is heat resistant and comprises a glass base as well as a glass stopper. It is made of lead-free glass and incorporates delicate etching. The decanter measures 8 inches in length and 6 inches in width and holds 35 ounces of liquor.
Source: Home Wet Bar
To sum it up, appearance and style are the most important factors in the case of wine liquor decanters. However, depending upon the type of liquor being consumed, the functionality becomes equally essential in deciding for the most favorable shaped decanter. Thus, before making a purchase, make sure the decanter serves to meet your style as well as wine requirements. Your drinkware collection reflects your personality and lifestyle which should be displayed during parties and whenever your guests visit you.
And when it comes to decanting, it may be considered a skill, but honestly, there’s no rocket science. Literally, anyone can easily decant a wine. Try it for fun. Pick up a wine bottle at your friend’s place, pour the wine into a decanter, then leave it for a while and let it breathe before finally pouring it in a glass. It’ll be a great experience to see how the wine transforms with oxygenation.