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What is a decanter and how do you use one?

Drinking Lessons: Decanting 101

You'd think serving a good drink was easy enough. Open and pour, right?

Well, for the sake of those for whom drinking is a passion--an art, you might say--let's look at "decanting". It's a process which sounds technical, but isn't really.

To simplify:

  • Decanting: the process of pouring the wine (or, in some cases, other liquid) from one vessel to the other.
  • Decanter: the specially-made flask--usually glass or crystal--in which you pour the spirit for the sediment to settle.
  • To Decant: To let spirits breathe. The act of decanting.

Three Reasons to Decant

Why is Decanting is such a good idea?

  1. It Gets Rid of Sediment

When spirits have aged a few years, colored pigments and earthy tannins will create a cloudy appearance if mixed when pouring. That murky stuff is the sediment, which doesn't taste great.

Decanting helps you pour the wine into a nice-looking vessel without getting all the sediment in your glass and mouth.

  1. A Decanter Looks Stylish

A great-looking decanter helps with the aesthetics when you're entertaining. Decant the wine when you have special guests over and want to serve a very good wine in a beautiful way, without spoiling its flavors.

  1. It's Just More Fun!

Try it next time you are entertaining guests or hanging out with friends, since it can help kick the level of fun up a notch. It can also be a good conversation starter. If your friends are also wine lovers, they may even know a thing or two about decanting already.

How Do You Choose a Decanter?

Choose according to your style and spending preference, as they can range from budget-friendly to luxury items that cost a few hundred dollars.

The older models look fascinating but may be impractical to hold or serve wine if you're not experienced. This is why it's often best to be on the safe side and choose a simple glass decanter that has a large base for easy balance.

A Word on Wine: The Proper Way to Decant

To prepare for decanting, have your decanter ready. This means it should be washed and properly dried.

Next, get a candle ready. This is for the light source. A little less fancy option, of course, is to simply use an electric light.

If you are serving wine, it should have been upright for at least 24 hours, so that most of the sediment has already settled to the bottom of the bottle.

Once you're ready, simply follow these instructions:

  1. With an excellent corkscrew, make a tidy and clean slice off the foil, just under the first rim.
  2. Uncork your wine bottle gently, then go ahead and have a taste just to be sure it's still great to serve.
  3. Holding the decanter at a slight angle with the wine bottle tipped as well, pour slowly.

Tip: When you light the candle, have the smoke passing under just the shoulder of the bottle. If you look at the glass neck closely, you will be able to see the wine flowing. Make sure that the contents of the bottle are not being stirred. If you see any sediment about to pour out, stop.

When you are through pouring, the deposit should be left at the bottom of the bottle -- not poured out. It is okay to have some of the wine leftover in the bottle for this.

Last but not least: enjoy.

Savor your drink slowly, and enjoy the company you're with. If it's whiskey or cognac, don't ever add water to the decanter. Let guests add water to their own glasses if they please.

Cheers! And remember, we've got curated gift boxes for the special man in your life. If he loves drinking, check out our selection of items for a personal touch!