Shapes & Uses for Wine Decanters

Updated April 17, 2017

Wine decanters not only add a touch of class to any wine cabinet or table setting, they also have a practical use as they air out the wine and bring forth the fuller flavours in the liquid. When wine is poured in to the decanter, the sediment that has generally formed on the bottom of the bottle is left in the former container, clearing the newly poured wine. There are a variety of shapes of decanters, each with a different use, from functional to highly decorative.

Upright Vase

An upright vaselike decanter is one of the most common shapes. These decanters have a fluted top with a wide opening, which progresses into a smaller flute and then a wide bottom. The structure shows the process of decanting in an elegant manner. Lead crystal used to be the norm for these decanters, as it would usually have many carvings throughout the outside. However, this is less advisable for use now, for it has been found that lead from the crystal can bleed into the vase. Glass is much more common for upright vase decanters now. These vaselike decanters can come with toppers or without; the former is used to store wine for several hours or days.


Carafes are decanters that have much wider openings but do not come with a stopper. Generally made out of glass, the shape can be carved or not. The carafe is used not only for aerating the wine, but for serving almost immediately when the flavours have been released by the air. A carafe is not meant for storing wine for more than the time during which it is served, because it does not have a stopper, causing the wine to go bad quite quickly.

Bottle Top

Commonly seen at wine tasting in wineries, a bottle-top wine decanter aerates the wine almost instantly. It fits directly on the top of the bottle and is usually shaped as a little bulb on the top of the bottle that ends in a small spout for pouring the wine in a slender stream. The decanter is used right away, and the wine is poured directly from the bottle, through the small bulb, into the glass.

Decanter with Punt

Wine decanters, to aerate the wine even more before pouring, sometimes have punts placed in them. A punt is the dimple usually found in the bottom of a wine bottle; however, when it is situated in the middle of the decanter, it rises about halfway up the middle. The punt allows for an individual to grasp the decanter easier while also causing faster aeration in its displacement of the wine.

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About the Author

Based in Kingston, Canada, Samantha Lowe has been writing for publication since 2006. She has written articles for the "Mars' Hill" newspaper and copy for various design projects. Her design and copy for the "Mars' Hill" won the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker award in 2008. Lowe holds an Honors BA from Trinity Western University, and a MSc in Occupational Therapy from Queen's University where she is currently doing her PhD.