A wine decanter is a serving vessel from which wine is served. Wine is poured from the bottle into the decanter to remove sediment, aerate the wine and facilitate easy pouring. Decanting wine is especially important when serving older vintages where more sediment is likely to accumulate. The wider the bottom of the decanter the more wine surface is exposed to the air and the quicker the wine is aerated. Decanting wine helps to bring out the best flavours in any bottle of wine and adds to the enjoyment of the wine.
Lead Crystal Decanters
Lead crystal is traditional material from which to make wine decanters. When using a lead crystal decanter, do not leave the wine in it for very long. Because of knowledge about lead and lead poisoning, it is no longer recommended that wine stay in a lead crystal decanter for more than a few minutes as the lead could seep into the wine and be ingested in unhealthy amounts. Some of the finest and most popular wine decanter makers, such as Waterford Crystal, Steuben Crystal and Baccarat Crystal all make lead crystal wine decanters.
Glass decanters are frequently chosen due to the absence of lead in the materials. When you choose a glass decanter, select one that is clear glass with no embellishments, paint or decoration. Part of the allure of decanters is not only that they remove sediments and aerate the wine, but also that they allow the wine to be displayed in the light as opposed to the dark green or brown glass bottles in which the wine is stored and sold.
Depending on the type of wine you favour, choose a flared-bottom decanter or a carafe-style decanter. The flared bottom decanter has a long thin neck, which flares into a wide bottom; this style maximises the surface area of the wine that is exposed to the air. The carafe style decanters are tall and wider at the bottom than at the top, but don't allow for as much surface area of the wine to be exposed to the air.
If you don't have the time to decant your wine, another way to make sure your wine gets aerated is to get a wine aerator instead of a decanter. Wine aerators achieve the same end as a decanter but take much less time. Wine aerators work by pouring wine directly from the bottle into the top of the aerator, the wine then travels downward through the device, which pulls in air and mixes it with the liquid. This speeds up the process of aerating which is typically achieved in a decanter by exposing the surface of the wine to the air for an extended period of time. Wine aerators enhance the flavours, deepen the bouquet and given the wine a smoother finish.