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Decanting wines can be somewhat of a mystery for the novice oenophile. Diane Flamand, a Bordeaux-based oenologist for Légende Wines at Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite, breaks down the process.
“Decanting is used for two things: first, to aerate and oxygenate the wine in order to develop the aromas after having been closed in bottles and kept in a reduction area for more or less time. And second, for older wine, which can sometimes have a bit of deposit,” she explains. These deposits are made up of the wine’s tartaric and color matters, which decantation works to separate from the wine for serving. The type and age of the wine you’re serving or drinking, of course, will dictate your decanter style and preparation.
Here, Flamand and other experts offer their picks of the best decanters, as well as pro tips for decanting at home.
Best Overall: Le Chateau Wine Decanter
Easy to get a clean pour
Excellent quality for the price
Lasts longer if cleaned by hand
Le Chateau’s finely engineered decanter is designed to perfectly hold one standard bottle (750 mL) of wine, with its wide base and asymmetrical spout for optimal aeration and precise, easy pouring.
The 100% lead-free crystal piece is as visually stunning as it is functional, and at 8.5 inches wide, the base is among the largest on the market—perfect for your biggest and oldest reds. According to Master Sommelier Larry O’Brien, a fine lip also minimizes dripping (a problem that can arise with pouring the last drops from a wide-based decanter).
Material: Lead-free crystal | Capacity: 25 ounces | Dimensions (LxWxH): 10.3 x 10 x 12.3 inches
Best Value: Luigi Bormioli Crescendo Wine Decanter
Easy to hold
Wine may drip slightly while pouring
Does not hold up well in dishwasher
For high quality, durability and aesthetically pleasing designs, Luigi Bormioli’s glassware ticks all the boxes—and this 68-ounce wine decanter is no exception. Hand-blown in Italy, the crystal glass decanter features a wide base and open-mouth design. Flamand notes that a wide base is among the first things she considers when shopping for wine decanters.
“I am looking for the shape, whatever the brand or the price,” she says. “The base of the decanter must be large in order to favor the oxygenation of the wine—better surface of contact with wine [equates to better oxygenation].”
Flamand also adds that the decanter’s neck should be narrow and easy to handle, fitting comfortably in your hand.
Material: Glass | Capacity: 68 ounces | Dimensions (LxWxH): 7 x 8.8 x 9.5 inches
Best Splurge: Riedel Ultra Decanter
Handmade and high-quality
Classic shape and design
Great for gifting
Very light and fragile
Robert Daugherty, winemaker at Winc in Santa Barbara, California, picks the Riedel Ultra as his favorite wine decanter. “For Cab drinkers, it’s a must-have—not only does it have a wide base for maximum exposure to oxygen, [but] it’s also simple in design and elegant,” he says. “It’s one of those few items that doesn’t sacrifice functionality for beauty.”
With a 43-ounce capacity, the handmade Riedel decanter very comfortably fits a full standard bottle, with plenty of room for the wine to breathe. Its gently flared neck also makes for easy pouring. Handwashing is recommended, but this decanter can also go in the dishwasher in a pinch.
Good to Know:
Daugherty offers a taste test idea for beginners: “Try [the] wine straight from the bottle first and analyze [it] in three parts: mouthfeel, aromas and flavors.” He adds, “Then, pour the rest into the decanter—let it sit for 15, 30 and 45 minutes, trying a glass at each stage.” He also notes that one should be able to detect differences along the way. If this seems like too much of a process, Daugherty’s default decanting time with reds is one hour before serving.
Material: Crystal | Capacity: 43 ounces | Dimensions (LxWxH): 7 x 7 x 9 inches
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Most Durable: Spiegelau Authentis Decanter
Large surface area for efficient aeration
Holds up well in dishwasher
Hard to chip or break
Wine can spill while pouring
Heavy and somewhat difficult to hold
O’Brien is also a fan of wide decanter bases, particularly when it comes to big, bold wines. His favorite wine decanter for these bottles? The Spiegelau Authentis Decanter, which boasts a wide surface area, "for those very powerful wines in need of maximum aeration. It is also sturdy and durable,” he says, noting the model’s relative affordability for its quality. The lead-free, crystal wine decanter comes in two sizes: a 35.3-ounce one with a 9-inch wide base, and a 50.7-ounce one with a 9.5-inch base.
As for how to use them, O’Brien offers this insight: “As sediment is rarely the issue for decanting, there is no need to delicately pour down the side of the decanter,” he says. “Depending on the wine, a greater or lesser degree of splashing and frothing in the middle of the decanter can be very beneficial.”
Material: Glass | Capacity: 35.3 ounces or 50.7 ounces | Dimensions (LxWxH): 9 x 9 x 11.5 inches or 9.5 x 9.5 x 12.5 inches
Best Aerating: Rabbit Pura Decanting System
Attractive modern design
Easily removes sediment from wine
Speeds up decanting
Can be messy to pour
Not as efficient or consistent as traditional decanting
The Rabbit Pura decanter comes complete with its own aerating system, pulling double duty with its smart design. To use, simply pour a standard 750 mL bottle into the decanter to aerate, while the stainless steel stopper directs the wine down the sides of the decanter; let it decant for the desired time. Upon pouring, the mesh strainer will catch any sediment and prevent it from landing in your glass.
This 25-ounce decanter is made from lead-free crystal and is handwash-only.
Material: Lead-free crystal | Capacity: 25 ounces | Dimensions (LxWxH): 6.9 x 6.9 x 8 inches | What’s Included: Decanter, removable aerator
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Best with Stopper: BTäT Decanter with Stand
Comes with everything you need to clean and store
Great for white wines and old wines
Easy to pour
Base can be unstable
Appearance of lower-quality material
This one-stop wonder comes with everything you need to clean and store your decanter. It also comes with a round cork stopper that makes this decanter perfect for enjoying white wines or older wines. These more delicate drinks require a shorter oxygen exposure than young red wines—often just 20 to 30 minutes—before they begin to lose their bright, vibrant character. This decanter allows you to savor your meal, drink or company for longer: Simply place the stopper atop the decanter once the wine has had sufficient time to breathe, and proceed to take your time enjoying your wine.
Most white wines are not commonly decanted, but aeration can help them mellow out if they are showing sulfur or bitter tannin character out of the gate. A room-temperature decanter can also help warm up a white wine that has been over-chilled, allowing the aromatics to be fully expressed.
Material: Lead-free crystal | Capacity: 60 ounces | Dimensions (LxWxH): 8.5 x 8.5 x 10 inches | What’s Included: Decanter, drying stand, stopper, brush, beads
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Most Unique: Wine Enthusiast Art Series Wine Tower Decanting Set
Stunning and unique design
Naturally aerates wine
Made from high-quality materials
Takes up more counter space than other options
Must be washed by hand
This show-stopping centerpiece looks like a combination of fine art and a mad wine scientist’s laboratory equipment. For the home entertainer, this unusual decanter can’t be beat for its conversation-starting abilities—or its function.
The ideal intersection of wine and design, the three-piece tower set aerates while it decants, sending your wine and a winding journey through the twisting tunnel as it travels to its final destination at the base of the decanter.
While this piece will make a big splash at your next dinner party, it won’t make a mess on your table: The set includes a stainless steel drip tray to catch any potential spills. Lightweight yet durable, the Wine Tower Decanting Set is worth the splurge—whether it’s for yourself or a gift.
Material: Lead-free crystal | Capacity: 25 ounces | Height: 8 inches | What’s Included: Decanter, funnel, aerator, stand, drip tray
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Best Electric: Wake Up Wine Pro S
Extremely quick decanting
Fun extra features
Easy to use
May take the romance out of the wine experience
This fun, unusual decanter is packed with extra features that turn wine aeration into a full-on sensory experience. The Wake Up Wine decanter optimizes the flavor of both wine and spirits, with help from LED lights that accelerate the aging process. Plus, thanks to its Bluetooth speaker functionality, you can get the party started while you’re waiting for your wine to open up.
Kyla Cox, an Atlanta-based wine consultant and founder of Cork Camp, sees the appeal: "Aerating a wine is a process that can sometimes take hours,” she says, but this decanter speeds that up to mere minutes. “It won’t turn your Two-Buck Chuck into a first-growth Bordeaux, but if you need to impress your boss or the in-laws, well, this is the Ferrari of decanters!”
Also included is a fine mesh strainer to remove sediment and a glass stopper. Wine purists may pass on the Wake Up Wine decanter, but a good time is guaranteed.
Material: Lead-free glass | Capacity: 25 ounces | Dimensions (LxWxH): 8 x 8 x 11 inches | What’s Included: Decanter, glass stopper, mesh strainer, touch control panel, built-in rechargeable battery, USB cable
Related: The Best Wine Accessories
For most wine drinkers, a simple, sturdy, no-frills style like the Le Chateau Wine Decanter (view at Amazon) should do the job perfectly. We also love the extremely practical BTäT Decanter (view at Amazon) because it comes with everything you need if you don’t already own accessories for cleaning and storage.
What to Look for in a Wine Decanter
Easy to hold and pour
Decanters that are heavy or awkwardly shaped might look nice, but consider whether you might find them uncomfortable or difficult to pour from. Additionally, decanters with a curved lip tend to make less of a mess while pouring than those that are cut straight across the top.
Ease of cleaning
Consider whether you’d prefer a decanter that can go in the dishwasher safely, or if you are okay with frequent handwashing and gentle care.
Sturdy and durable
Even entry-level decanters aren’t exactly cheap, so you’ll want something stable and well-made that will stand the test of time. Look for high-quality glass or crystal that won’t break or chip easily.
A decanter takes up valuable real estate in the kitchen or home bar, so if you’re going to have it on display and use it frequently, you’ll want something with visual appeal. If you have plenty of enclosed cabinet space and don’t decant wines often, this may be a lower priority.
If you don’t already own accessories for your decanter, consider whether you want it to include a stopper, cleaning equipment, or a built-in or removable aerator. Some might find features like aerators or electronic decanting cumbersome or unnecessary, while others may appreciate their time-saving abilities.
How do decanters work?
Decanters have several functions that improve the experience of certain wines: They separate the sediment that gathers at the bottom of aged or unfiltered wines; they enhance a wine’s flavors and aroma by exposing it to air; and they provide a solution in the event of a broken cork (it can happen to anyone, no matter how well the wine has been stored or how carefully you opened it!).
Coming into contact with oxygen allows a wine to breathe, softening the tannins and opening up a range of complex characteristics. Pouring wine into a decanter encourages contact with oxygen; then, as the wine sits in the decanter, the increased surface area that becomes exposed continues that process.
How do you clean and care for decanters?
Check the instructions for your specific decanter to see what the manufacturer recommends—some are dishwasher-safe, some must be washed by hand, and some are OK to go in the dishwasher (but handwashing is preferred). You’ll want to clean your decanter after each use. If the decanter is not stained, you can simply use hot water.
To remove stains that are a result of wine sitting in the decanter for a long time, you will need a cleaning solution. You can use lemon juice or a combination of water and either white vinegar, dish soap, denture-cleaning tablets, baking soda or bleach—as well as a scrubbing agent, such as rice, small ball bearings and coarsely ground sea salt. Combine the cleaning solution and scrubbing agent in the decanter, using a higher ratio of scrubbers for more stubborn stains. Swirl the decanter and let it sit for as long as is necessary to remove the stain. Dispose of the cleaning solution, rinse with hot water, and use a long, thin bottle brush to scrub inside the neck and base. Dry your decanter upside down on a drying stand.
Never use dish soap to clean a decanter—it can leave behind a residue and an unpleasant scent. You can also purchase a cleaning kit for your decanter.
How do you store decanters?
Make sure your decanter is clean and dry before storing it. Decanters can be quite fragile, so store yours in a place where it cannot be accidentally disturbed—especially if you have children or pets in your home. An enclosed cabinet is ideal, with the added bonus of preventing your decanter from gathering dust. Make sure it’s easy for you to reach to avoid accidents when taking it out or putting it away. Store your decanter in a room with a consistent and moderate temperature; glassware can break when exposed to dramatic shifts from hot to cold and vice versa.
Why Trust Liquor.com?
Céline Bossart is a longtime wine writer who has seen, shopped for and used plenty of decanters. While they’re a must-have for any wine drinker, she does not recommend traveling with them.
Nikki Goddard is a wine writer with 14 years of industry experience, as well as CSW and WSET Diploma certification. She is passionate about taking the intimidation out of wine education and has taught classes for WSET levels 2 and 3. In 2019, Nikki was named a Top Young Wine Writer by Vinous Media.
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