What To Know About A Wine Decanter

by Tara Webb

A decanter is a vessel that holds the decantation of liquid, often wine. Many times this liquid inside includes some amount of sediment. The process of decantation involves the separation of liquids. The wine decanter, specifically, is used to store and serve the alcoholic beverage.

These containers vary in many ways, primarily in their shape and design. Often they are constructed from inert materials, such as glass. Generally speaking, they have a storage capacity to hold a standard bottle of wine, approximately 0.75 liters. A similar structure is a vessel called a carafe. This is employed when serving alcohol and other beverages, but does not include a stopper.

In the past, decanters played a big part of the serving of beverages. These containers would be filled with wine from amphoras. Then, servants would bring them out to the table and pour the contents. The ancient Romans are credited with pioneering glass versions of this container. When the Roman Empire fell, so did glass production. The scarcity of material meant that many decanters were produced from other materials including bronze, gold, earthenware and silver.

It was not until the Renaissance period that there was a reemergence of glass decanters, courtesy of the Venetians. The 1730s saw British glassmakers developing stoppers. These items acted as plugs for the vessel, limiting the air that reached the container contents. Since that invention, there have been very little changes made to the concept and structure of these vessels.

This type of decanting is a process that begins when liquid from a different container is poured inside this type of vessel. The purpose of this is to separate a small amount of liquid that contains sediment from the larger amount of clear liquid that is sediment free. During the process, sediment is left inside the original vessel and all the clear liquid will transfer to the decanter.

Another common usage for this device is aerating the beverage. In other words, letting the liquid breathe. The container is designed in a way to offer an imitation of what occurs when a glass is swirled, the stimulation of molecule movement, which releases aroma compounds. These units are also known to smooth the harsher elements of certain beverages.

The level of effectiveness from this process and the vessel itself is arguable. There are experts who claim the overexposure the drink has to oxygen diffuses and dissipates aroma compounds rather than simulating them. There are some reports that say the process, over a couple hours, does not have the softening tannins effect. This is believed to take place only when the wine is being made and oak is aging. Still, there are experts who take a different stance and tout the abilities of these devices, referencing its aesthetic appeal.

A wine decanter is a device that is used to hold and serve the alcoholic beverage. It comes in various designs and sizes, but often includes a stopper and is made from glass, gold, silver or bronze. There is some belief that in addition to being useful for storing and serving the beverage, these containers also improve the smoothness and overall effect of the drink.

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