Best decanter

Bar & Wine

Whiskey and cognac drinkers might want to consider using a decanter as well. They’re known to help bring out the hidden flavors in those spirits, just as they do with a good wine.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Which decanter is best?

Using a decanter takes your wine drinking to the next level. A decanter is a carafe-style container, made from glass or crystal, which is intended to aerate or filter your wine before drinking. The primary purpose of a decanter is to bring out the more complex aromas and flavors from a wine. What’s more, a decanter doesn’t have to be used only for wine. Using it for juice or water during a get-together makes for a beautiful table piece. Many decanters are hand-blown into elegant and interesting shapes, which can be both practical and stylish.

Our top pick, the Wine Enthusiast Vivid, has a lightweight crystal design and offers the perfect balance between functionality and aesthetics.

What to know before you buy a decanter

Functions

Separation: Firstly, many wines develop a layer of sediment over time. Drinking this sediment along with the wine can be bitter. Decanting helps to separate the sediment from the wine before pouring it into your glass.

Aeration: Additionally, decanters can aerate your wine. Mixing oxygen with wine helps you enjoy the full range of flavors and scents within. Aerating can also improve the taste of less expensive wines, bringing out the full potential of their flavors.

Design element: Finally, they add a pleasing design element to any table. Because decanters come in all different shapes and sizes, you can express your personal tastes and style by gracing your dining table with a beautifully designed decanter.

How to use a decanter

Using a decanter is not complicated. If you are using it for a young wine, you simply need to pour the wine into the decanter slowly. It should remain in the decanter for about 20 to 30 minutes before you drink it. If you’re using the decanter for an older wine, you should tilt it as you pour the wine in, so it doesn’t splash against the bottom, spreading the wine’s grit. Once the sediment reaches the neck of the bottle, you should stop.

Material

The majority of decanters are made from glass or crystal, both of which are acceptable. While crystal is stronger than glass, it’s also more expensive. Crystal decanters often have interesting shapes that can become conversation pieces during a meal. Glass decanters come in more traditional shapes, and they usually have thicker walls than crystal models. Glass models are often dishwasher-safe, and their more simple shapes also make them easier to effectively wash by hand.

Size

Most decanters are designed to be used with a single bottle of wine. Some decanters hold more than one bottle, while others hold a single glassful. The best option is usually a decanter that holds a single bottle. If, however, you entertain often, you may want to buy a model that can hold two bottles. Single-glass decanters are good for individual wine drinkers who might only drink a little at a time.

Neck width

Wide-neck decanters are best for aeration. They allow for the process to take place more quickly. Wide-neck decanters also pose less of a challenge for cleaning. Thin-necked models are preferable for removing sediment from older wines. They can be quite difficult to clean, requiring either a decanter brush or decanter beads.

Shape

While the traditional decanter shape is similar to a vase, there are a myriad of different shapes available. Most of the non-vase shapes are intended to be visually interesting or appealing. Swan, duck, coronate and other shapes are available for those looking for something with a little more flair.

Aeration and filtration unit

While standard pour-and-serve decanters rely on their surface areas to aerate your wine, some decanters include separate aeration and filtration units to speed up the process. Aeration units are intended to break the wine into small drops, so they accumulate air as they fall down the side of the decanter. A filtration unit actively separates the sediment from the wine, rather than relying exclusively on the shape of the decanter. Decanters that incorporate aeration and filtration units are more expensive, but you will have a better experience for the extra money.

Cleaning ease

Don’t underestimate the importance of cleaning ease when choosing a decanter. Neck width and shape, as mentioned previously, have a tremendous impact on how easy or difficult it is to clean a decanter. Furthermore, the material of the decanter is important because crystal decanters are generally not dishwasher-safe. If you don’t want the hassle of hand-washing your decanter, opt for a durable glass model rather than crystal.

What to look for in a quality decanter

Break-resistant

Some decanters advertise themselves as break-resistant. This feature is available for both glass and crystal decanters. If you’re concerned about keeping your decanter safe if dropped or banged, look for a break-resistant model.

Stopper

You’ll need a stopper if you plan to keep wine in your decanter for more than a couple of hours. It will keep the wine fresh for longer once you’ve decanted it, especially if you want it to keep overnight after decanting.

Chilling feature

A chilling decanter is perfect for white wines. It will both aerate the wine and keep it cold at the same time.

How much you can expect to spend on a decanter

Most decanters cost $10-$400. Decanters for $10 are the most basic option. They’re made from glass and don’t include any additional features. For $150, you can find a high-quality crystal decanter that holds two or more bottles of wine. A $400 decanter is likely hand-blown crystal with a deluxe shape and also holds at least two bottles of wine at a time.

Decanter FAQ

How do you hand-wash a decanter?

A. Traditionally shaped decanters are simple to wash with soap, dishwashing liquid and a special decanter brush. If you have a decanter that’s an unusual shape, look for decanter cleaning beads. You simply add them with some water to the decanter, swish them around and you have a clean decanter.

Are more expensive decanters better at aerating wine?

A. Not necessarily. Most of the time, the price of a decanter is related to the amount of crystal it contains. Crystal doesn’t improve the wine-drinking experience, but it’s a more expensive material. Larger decanters generally do improve the aeration of the wine over smaller models because increased surface area leads to better oxygenation.

What’s the best decanter?

Top decanter

The Wine Enthusiast’s Vivid

The Wine Enthusiast’s Vivid

What you need to know: This is pure luxury for your most delicious wines.

What you’ll love: Of handmade craftsmanship, this lightweight crystal design holds a lot of wine.

What you should consider: There is no aeration and filtration unit.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Top decanter for the money

Final Touch’s Double-Wall Aerator

Final Touch’s Double-Wall Aerator

What you need to know: It comes at a great price for a functional aerator, although it is a bit fragile.

What we like: The sediment filter works well, and the aeration improves both aroma and flavor.

What we dislike: The glass is quite thin.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Worth checking out

Menu’s Winebreather

Menu’s Winebreather

What you need to know: This is a perfect choice for aerating a single bottle of wine.

What you’ll love: Although it’s made from glass, this decanter is highly durable. It works quickly to aerate wine as well.

What you should consider: It is somewhat small for some users.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Adam Reeder writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.