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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.
After extensive testing, the Le Chateau Wine Decanter is our top pick, based on its sturdy design and ease of use.
Helping to break down what can be an intimidating and overwhelming assortment, we've carefully home-tested our favorite decanters for all types of wines and occasions. Some of the attributes in which we rated each item include design and aesthetics, ease of use, size, and longevity. We also looked at how easily the wine poured in and out of the decanter and whether or not it was easily cleaned. For an in-depth look at all of our favorite decanters, read on.
Best Overall: Le Chateau Wine Decanter
Easy to get a clean pour
Excellent quality for the price
Lasts longer if cleaned by hand
Overall Rating: 5/5
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 with an 8.5-inch-wide base—it’s 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).
During our testing, we found that the thick glass and angled lip make this a sturdy and aesthetically pleasing option. The tapered neck makes it easy to hold, and the wide mouth makes pouring the wine into the decanter effortless. In our tests, we did find this decanter to be on the heavier side, especially when filled with an entire bottle of wine. But its thick glass walls also make it less delicate and less prone to chipping. You won’t be afraid this decanter will shatter into a million pieces if it takes a tumble, but that also doesn’t mean you should be shoving it off counters for fun. Le Chateau's decanter was easily cleaned with warm and soapy water.
"This no-nonsense decanter gets the job done with a sturdy design that is easy to use, easy to clean, and easy to afford." — Sarah Freeman, product tester
Material: Lead-free crystal | Capacity: 25 ounces | Dimensions (LxWxH): 10.3 x 10 x 12.3 inches
Best Value: Luigi Bormioli Crystal Crescendo Decanter
Easy to hold
Wine may drip slightly while pouring
Does not hold up well in dishwasher
Overall Rating: 4.8/5
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.
In our testing, we found the curvaceous design appealing, making for an elegant presentation—wine sits beautifully in this decanter. The dramatically tapered neck increases its aesthetic appeal while also allowing for a firm hold on the decanter. Despite its larger size, it’s fairly lightweight compared to similarly-sized models. The downside to its extra-wide base is the decanter can be a bit cumbersome to handle, especially when pouring the last of the wine out of the decanter. While it may be good to the last drop, we found during the test that because of the flat lip of this decanter, it led to some dripping down the side of the vessel.
We did appreciate that the wine opened up nicely during the test, and for a larger decanter, it was easily cleaned with warm and soapy water.
Material: Glass | Capacity: 68 ounces | Dimensions (LxWxH): 7 x 8.8 x 9.5 inches
Best Splurge: Riedel Ultra Wine Decanter
Handmade and high-quality
Classic shape and design
Great for gifting
Very light and fragile
Overall Rating: 4.9/5
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.”
Put to the test, we were initially impressed by the design. It’s made of lightweight crystal, making it both an aesthetically pleasing piece of glassware as well as a functional one. 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 wide base allows the wine to spread out, which is ideal for decanting younger wines. The decanter was easy to fill but does have a slightly narrower mouth. We also found that because of the straight lipped rim, there was a bit of dripping after pouring.
Made with the signature Riedel crystal, we found that it is best to wash this decanter by hand. We also discovered that because of its narrow neck, drying can take longer and if any water is left in the vessel, it may leave some condensation on the inside of the decanter.
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.
"Riedel makes dozens of beautiful decanters, but if you want one that pays tribute to classic design, the Ultra Decanter is the best bet, with its signature Riedel craftsmanship and quality alongside a compact design." — Sarah Freeman, product tester
Material: Crystal | Capacity: 43 ounces | Dimensions (LxWxH): 7 x 7 x 9 inches
Related: The Best Wine Aerators
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
Overall Rating: 4.8/5
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.
We were able to test the larger-sized decanter. In addition to its increased surface area, the Spiegelau boasts a longer neck and created a more dramatic effect when pouring wine into the vessel, which was done easily during our test thanks to the decanter’s tapered mouth. We found this larger decanter to be ideal for older wines and bigger reds. It poured easily into the glass with some dripping from the flat lip and was easily cleaned with warm and soapy water.
Good to Know:
As for how to get the most out of your new decanter, 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.”
"This beautiful decanter delivered exactly as it should, with ease of use and a beautiful design. It is a bit pricier than similar models but its larger size and unique design are worth the splurge." — Sarah Freeman, product tester
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
Overall Rating: 4.7/5
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.
While testing, we found the built-in aerator to be on the smaller side—the wine needed to be poured in slowly to prevent overflow. When done this way, however, it created a beautiful wine sprinkler effect in the vessel. A perk we found with this built-in aerator, was that it also doubled as a filter, catching any sentiment in the wine. The aerator made quick work of opening up the wine. Getting the wine out of the decanter, however, can be a bit messy. Rabbit recommends leaving the aerator in place when pouring, this is where the filter comes in, which did lead to a fair amount of dripping while pouring into the glass.
We liked this modern take on the classic decanter, which, we found, also can cut down on decanting time. This is especially handy if you’re drinking in a hurry or just forgot to pop open the bottle of red a few hours before guests arrived. This 25-ounce decanter is made from lead-free crystal and is handwash-only. The aerating and filtering system can be a bit more difficult to clean, with tiny openings catching debris. However, you can make up for the slightly increased cleaning time by drastically cutting down on your decanting time.
"The Pura Decanting System is a great decanter for those who want to drink their reds now, without having it sit on the counter for hours. Its reasonable price point make it a smart addition to the wine lover’s arsenal." — Sarah Freeman, product tester
Material: Lead-free crystal | Capacity: 25 ounces | Dimensions (LxWxH): 6.9 x 6.9 x 8 inches
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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
Overall Rating: 4.7/5
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.
When testing, we loved the extras, adding to the aesthetic of an otherwise classic decanter. The cork ball stopper gave the decanter a more youthful, modern look. The wide tapered mouth made it easy to pour wine into the decanter, and because the decanter is weighed well, it effortlessly poured wine into the glass. The decanter left little wine left in the bottom of the decanter, with little to no dripping from the lip and it opened up the wine nicely.
We found this decanter to be a perfect choice for the beginner wine drinker or someone looking for a more modern, youthful take on the sometimes stuffy piece of drinking equipment. However, we did find this well-valued set to have one major flaw. It is marketed as being made with lead-free crystal, however, the material felt more like plastic in the hand and, combined with a slightly wobbly base, this decanter loses points in the quality and refinement department.
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
Related: The Best Gifts for Wine Lovers
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
Overall Rating: 4.8/5
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 on a winding journey through the twisting tunnel as it travels to its final destination at the base of the decanter.
When we tested this decanter, we were truly impressed with the stunning glasswork, but found the wood to be a bit lower quality, and a bit on the flimsy side, especially for the price. We found the height to be slightly cumbersome, both in terms of storage and in terms of pouring wine into the topmost vessel when sitting on a counter. Once we got the hang of it, however, it was easy to pour the wine through the system. Although it appeared on the smaller side, it held an entire 750ml bottle. Because this decanter aerated the wine when poured through the system, it did the job quickly and efficiently. We thought the beaker-style vessel at the bottom of the system was a very nice touch, complete with a drip tray.
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. Be careful, though, the delicate glass aerators sit precariously on the wood frame, making them able to dislodge if bumped. Despite the orbs and spirals of thin glass, the system is easy to clean with warm, soapy water, assuming you do so shortly after use. Lightweight yet durable, the Wine Tower Decanting Set is worth the splurge—whether it’s for yourself or a gift.
Material: Lead-free borosilicate glass | Capacity: 750 ml | What’s Included: Decanter, funnel, aerator, stand, drip tray
Related: The Best Wine Fridges
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.
Our Testing Process
All of the products featured in this list of wine decanters have been carefully chosen by our editors and writers. We then sent each of the products directly to the writer for at-home testing. After applying a comprehensive list of methodologies—rating each item through a number of steps, and ranking them on key attributes tailored to each category—the writer provided personal feedback and captured photos of the items in use.
Some of the attributes we looked for and rated each item on included the design, construction, and aesthetics of the decanter, as well as how easy or cumbersome it was to pour wine in and out of the vessel. We also looked at how it was to pour from the decanter into a wine glass and whether there was spillage. We had our tester taste the wine after it was decanted and evaluate the change. And, finally, they tested the product to see how easy it was to clean.
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?
The items featured in this piece were all tested by Sarah Freeman—a food and beverage writer based in Chicago. She has been writing about restaurants and bars for the past decade—from learning about what makes a perfect piece of cocktail ice to the exploring art of beer label design.
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.
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