A Quick Summary

  • Choose a decanter that’s priced fairly. You want something durable, simple, and that works without paying too much. 
  • Choose a decanter that will get the job done right. It should have a wide base and a narrow neck that’s easy to pour from. 
  • Choose a decanter that’s made from the right materials. You want a decanter that’s made from either glass or lead-free crystal. 
  • Make sure it’s the right size for your wine. If you’re hosting a party and need to decant a magnum, you’re going to need a magnum decanter. 

For any wine expert or sommelier, decanting is an important step in appreciating wine. Read on below to learn more about a sommelier’s perspective on choosing the right decanter for you and your wine, so you’ll make perfect pours every time.  

How to Choose the Right Decanter 

Individual preferences in wine vary widely, spanning from deep reds to effervescent bubbles. Like wines themselves, even the most advanced sommeliers have their own preferences for what wines to decant and for how long. 

Sommeliers are wine experts trained in pairing wines with food and serving wine perfectly, so it always tastes great. Their job is to know whether to decant a bottle of wine or not. 

Choose a Decanter that Does the Job Right

When it comes down to it, sommeliers and home drinkers want to do two things. They want some wines to open up and breathe because their flavors and aromas are too constricted. They also want to remove any sediment that’s in a bottle of old wine. 

Make Sure Your Decanter is Shaped for Your Wine

Decanters are available in various shapes and sizes to accommodate everyone’s tastes. Traditional decanters, with their narrow neck and broad base, are perfect for robust red wines like cabernet sauvignon, syrah, and red blends. 

For aged wines, white wines, and less tannic wines, you can use decanters with a smaller base. However, unless they want something unique, most sommeliers prefer the tried and true classic designs that are easy to use, elegant, and efficient. 

Beautiful is not Always better

It’s important to note that while ornate and decorated decanters may be visually striking, they may not do the job. Elaborate designs, though beautiful, might obscure the view of the contents being decanted. 

When sommeliers select a decanter, they often choose the most practical. After all, a sommelier’s job isn’t to make wine look flashy, it’s to help it taste as amazing as it can.

Top Things Sommeliers Look for When Choosing a Decanter

When sommeliers search for the perfect decanter, several factors come to mind. Below are the top things sommeliers consider when purchasing a decanter. Even if you’re just getting into wine, you too should consider these factors when buying your perfect decanter for home. 

wine sommelier expertise it wine boutique

Design

You can find decanter in all sorts of shapes and sizes, with some designs prioritizing functionality while others beauty. Choose a decanter that not only enhances aeration and pouring, but also looks beautiful. 

The primary function of a decanter is to aerate wine and let you remove sediment, particularly in aged red wines. Find a decanter with a broad, shallow bowl with plenty of surface area to expose your wine to the air. 

You also want a decanter with a sturdy neck for effortless pouring and durability. If it looks and feels clumsy to you, don’t buy it. 

Cost

Decanters come in a wide price range, and while some may set you back hundreds of dollars, it’s important to shop within your budget comfortably. Often, the only reason to spend more on a decanter is if you love the design, glassblower, or you’re buying it as a gift for someone special. 

There are plenty of decanters on the market that are available for under $40, that will do the job of decanting your wine. However, investing a little more, between $50 to $100, will often give you superior quality, sleeker aesthetics, and extra add-ons for aeration and sediment filtration.

Additional Tools

There are great decanters on the market that not only have great designs but come with extra tools as well. Many sommeliers look for decanters with attachable aerators or filters for their necks. 

Filters will make sediment removal easy and aerators provide extra air exposure to your wine. Although you don’t need these extras to decant your wine, it can help make the job easier and save time. 

Pick the Best Materials

Ensure your decanter is crafted from glass or transparent crystal. This allows you to see your wine clearly. Also, these materials won’t impart any extra flavors or unwanted aromas to your wine like plastics or metals will. 

While crystal may incur a higher cost, it often rivals glass in effectiveness. Both can be incredibly durable and long-lasting, which may affect cost. 

Capacity

Most decanters accommodate a standard wine bottle or larger magnum sizes which hold 1.5 liters. If your usual decanting involves standard bottles, opt for a standard-sized decanter.

Choose a decanter with plenty of surface area to maximize wine exposure to air. However, avoid purchasing a size larger than necessary for your decanting needs. 

What is a Decanter?

Decanters are useful and elegant tools for getting your wine to taste even better. Between their sleek and beautiful form to their simple yet beneficial functions, these containers should be on your list. 

Decanters are typically crafted from glass or crystal. They have a wide bowl and a slender neck that tapers off at the end to make pouring easy.

red wine decanted in luxury setting
Want to learn more? Read our Decanting 101: A Beginner’s Guide

While traditionally shaped, some decanters feature creative designs resembling animals or objects. However, the most common and functional decanters are the simplest. 

Besides their aesthetic appeal, decanters serve practical purposes. First, they help you separate and remove sediments that can accumulate in aged red wines. 

By pouring the wine into your decanter, sediments settle at the bottleneck. This makes it easy to remove them, leaving behind a clear, sediment-free wine to enjoy. 

The second reason to use a decanter is to facilitate aeration. This process of exposing wine to air helps release less desirable compounds and develop the more subtle yet pleasant flavors and aromas. 

This is beneficial for young wines high in tannins, as aeration helps soften their flavors. Decanters with a larger base are ideal for aerating even the most robust, alcoholic, and tannin-rich red wines. 

Why Decanters Matter 

For sommeliers and everyday wine lovers at home, it’s important to get the very best out of a wine. A special wine that’s young and tannic may seem like a waste of money if it’s not decanted. Also, an aged library wine could taste bitter and chalky if you forget to decant it and remove its sediments. 

Appreciating wine engages multiple senses, like tastes, smells, sounds, and sights at the same time. Everything from the pop of the cork and the color of the wine to the initial aromas and tartness on your tongue will send your brain into overdrive. 

Decanting wine helps take distinctive aromas and flavors to the front of the stage. It also allows less desirable compounds to dissipate before reaching your palate.

This transformative process involves aeration, which is simply the act of exposing your wine to air. Aeration promotes the evaporation of harsh compounds, preserving your wine’s more pleasant and delicate aromas.

How Sommeliers Know a Wine Needs to be Decanted

When sommeliers choose whether to decant a wine or not, they look for a few things. With their knowledge of wine and decanting basics, they will serve wine in its most delicious form. 

If you’re decanting wine at home, you too can follow the same steps. This way, you’ll be sure to decant the right bottles and for the right times. 

sommelier is choosing right wine

First, choose whether your wine is high in tannins, aged, young, or contains sediment requiring removal. Old library wines, tannic reds such as cabernet sauvignon, and anything young and red, will probably need at least 30 minutes in the decanter to open up. 

Fortified wines, such as port, madeira, and sherry, will always do well decanted. Big, bold and red wines such as barolo and tannat, will surely need over an hour in a decanter. 

White wines and champagnes are trickier. If you have a bottle of sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc, or gewürztraminer with tons of soft tropical aromas, you may need to keep the decanter away. 

White wines with age, acidity, and rich oaky profiles and fuller body such as a Napa Valley chardonnay, may really benefit from sitting in the decanter for 15 to 30 minutes. 

When uncertain, don’t hesitate to uncork a bottle and sample it immediately. If it tastes closed-off or exhibits faint off-putting aromas like burnt match or sulfur, decanting may help it breathe and open up.

Ultimately, the decision to decant boils down to personal preference and taste. If you’re inclined to decant, don’t hesitate to experiment. Even the world’s greatest sommeliers taste test their decanted wines to find out their own preferences. 

Sommelier’s Top Decanters

Below are a few top decanters that sommeliers often go to for decanting their wine. These amazing decanters come in a variety of price ranges but are sure to do the job well. 

wine glasses and decanter

Josephinenhütte Josephine Decanter ($150 – $210)

On the more expensive side, the Josephine Decanter from Josephinenhütte is one of the most respected decanters on the market. Sommeliers love its sleek and durable design and outstanding aerating abilities. 

Crafted from thin and durable glass, this handmade decanter has a sleek design with beautiful contours at the bottom, optimizing aeration and looking stylish at the same time. Despite its higher price range, it’s perfect for everyday use. 

Ichendorf Milano Decanter ($70 – $110)

With a legacy spanning over a century, Ichendorf Milano is a trusted name in European home and kitchenware design. Sommeliers often choose the Alchemy Decanter because of its two-toned glass design, strength, and incredible aeration capabilities. 

Ichendorf Milano offers a range of decanters in various shapes, each combining functionality, elegance, and sturdiness, making it a standout choice for sommeliers wanting to diversify their wineware. 

Pura Decanting System by Rabbit ($70 to $75)

Sommeliers love the Seattle brand Rabbit and its Pura Decanting System. Featuring a stainless steel strainer to capture sediment, this decanter is ideal for decanting vintage wines and making a sommelier’s job easier. 

The innovative design includes a snug-fitting filter and an aerator for instant aeration as wine cascades down the decanter’s side. Its wide basin and narrow neck not only enhance functionality but are also super elegant, making it a must-have accessory for sommeliers trying to impress guests. 

Riedel Ultra Wine Decanter ($280)

For sommeliers looking for something ultra special, dependable, and trusted, the Riedel Ultra Wine Decanter can’t be beat. Crafted from Riedel’s special lightweight crystal, this decanter has plenty of room for aeration and remains sturdy. 

Its simple yet elegant design, with a wide base and perfectly shaped lip and neck, transforms wine pouring into an art form. For sommeliers hosting events or working in restaurants, this makes all the difference.  

Decanters aren’t just for Sommeliers

Although decanters are a popular tool for any sommelier, they are quintessential for anyone who loves wine. With just a little investment, they can help bring your wine to life. 

wine decanter traditional wine

Decanters have important uses in the world of wine. They also make excellent gifts and decorations for a home wine bar or kitchen. 

Even if your job isn’t in wine, choosing a decanter like a sommelier is a great way to choose the best decanter for your needs.