These are the types of decanters including what it is, different styles, materials, sizes, how to use it, cleaning, and how long to decant liquor & wine.
Decanters are used for a variety of purposes. One can find a specific decanter for practically any type of alcohol including wine, vodka, rum, gin, whisky, port, and tequila to name a few.
The different styles and shapes of decanters available are practically endless. They can be used to hold the alcohol for presentation, storage, and to enhance the flavor.
Quicklook: Different Wine Decanter Types
• Swan or U-Shaped
• Snail Shaped
• Bell Shaped
• Square Glass
• Chiseled Side
What Is a Decanter?
The whole point of a decanter is fairly simple and practical. Its purpose is to be a container that is used to serve wine. Decanters are usually made out of glass. The decantation process is to pour wine from its original bottle into the glass decanter to help aerate or add air to the liquid.
Decanting is the process of pouring the contents of a wine bottle into another receptacle—usually an ornate decanter made of glass, but not always. – A First Course in Wine: From Grape to Glass, Dan Amatuzzi
In a residential setting, decanters serve wine right into individual glasses for friends, family, and other guests in the home. The concept of decanting wine is so that the substance will be able to aerate, this will allow it to open up and oxidize.
This also gets rid of any sedimentation that may have accumulated over time. You can contain wine in a decanter for a few days but for other types of spirits and hard liquors such as brandy and vodka, they could last for years without affecting the quality, smell, and taste.
Decanting can enhance the flavor of the alcohol because of the aeration it encourages. It can also save your wine if the cork breaks and there’s a risk that it will contaminate the wine. And of course, it separates it from the sediments accumulated at the bottle’s bottom. This is very common for aged wine.
A whiskey decanter’s purpose is mostly just for storage in custom home bars and aesthetics. It will allow you to showcase the whiskey better so that its contents are viewable and more open for visual appreciation.
More than that, when whiskey is contained in a decanter, it gives it a far classier vibe. It is a much better-looking container versus storing the whiskey in the store-bought bottles that they come in with.
This decanter type is typically not made out of leaded glass or crystal. This is mainly because it can end up ruining the quality and taste of the whiskey when stored inside them for an extended period.
A whiskey decanter will also typically come with an airtight stopper to ensure the spirit is enclosed in a sealed environment. This limits oxygen exposure as whiskey decanters typically come with a much smaller surface area than other types of decanters out there.
A cognac decanter can come in a lot of different forms but the most common ones would have to be square decanters that are made out of crystal or glass that has been cut.
As usual, these decanters come with an airtight seal to make sure that the alcohol does not evaporate over time. Decanting it will allow the alcohol to be exposed to some air and this can take some of its strength off but solidify its flavor overall.
A wine decanter’s purpose is for decanting wine, of course. Wine usually has lots of sediments at the bottom of the bottle. This can be common for aged wine as well as for low-priced ones. This can be easily filtered out with the use of a wine decanter.
The second main reason why decanting wine is important is so that you will be able to allow it to breathe. Exposing the wine to some air will allow certain aromas, flavors, and valued tannins to come up to the surface.
A high-quality wine decanter usually has a flat bottom and a fairly large surface area. This will enable you to more or less let the flavors of the wine go free through the purpose of sediment removal and aeration.
A gin decanter is used primarily to keep gin in store. Gin is a type of spirit that is colorless. However, there may be some instances wherein it may show certain but subtle hues of blue or gold.
Gins are recommended to be stored in decanters that are made out of glass that isn’t textured. A great gin decanter will usually have a magnifying effect that’s perfect for showcasing the delicate colors of the spirit.
Gin decanters are shaped like squares and are made out of glass that’s free from lead and completely transparent. There may also be instances where there can be subtle cuts in the glass.
This is mainly for the purpose of added aesthetics. The standard size is around 8 inches tall and about 3.5 inches wide. They also always come with a glass stopper and with a capacity of 26 ounces or so.
Decanters for Young Wines
A young wine decanter is a long-necked glass bottle with a large surface area at the bottom. You would be able to swirl the bottle vigorously without any risk of spilling the wine or breaking it during the process.
The thing is that young wine needs a lot of aeration, more than vintage or aged wine. This is why a young wine decanter will typically have a larger surface area compared to a traditional wine decanter.
The long neck will allow you to grip it firmly. You need a strong grip for the vigorous swirling that you will be doing in order to aerate the young wine properly so it’s important to take note of that as well when you’re in the market for a decanter.
Decanters for Vintage Wines
There aren’t really any huge differences when it comes to getting a decanter that’s specifically made for vintage wine. The whole concept is fairly similar. You need a wide bottom and a long neck in order for you to be able to aerate the wine properly.
Vintage wine doesn’t require as much aeration as young wine, so it’s ok not to have a particularly long bottleneck to accommodate energetic swirling. Vintage wine decanters usually have much shorter necks and are usually inlaid with more textures in the glass, as the main purpose is for basic aeration and for aesthetics.
Tequila decanters are for tequila lovers, for sure. Tequila is a liquor with a particularly strong flavor. That’s why it’s essential to really allow it to breathe. Doing so will help you get rid of its bitterness and come up with a more solid flavor.
More than that, a tequila decanter will help you get a more refined look for your dedicated container for your tequila. The kind of decanter your tequila should get should be based on what type of tequila you’re planning to store in the first place.
Colorless tequila should be stored in a decanter with a smoother surface. An amber-colored tequila, on the other hand, will look great on a textured glass tequila decanter. It should have a stopper that’s airtight. This will prevent your tequila from quickly evaporating.
A rum decanter provides rum the same benefits it provides wine from the process of decanting. Although the process of aeration doesn’t really do anything for the quality of the rum, it helps improve its flavor. Rum is a particularly strong type of liquor. It means that its taste and effects may turn out to be pretty intense especially when it’s consumed.
When you allow the rum to breathe, even for just a short period of time, it will allow you to expose it to oxygen by way of aeration. It will let the flavor mellow out a little bit and come in with a little more neutral flavor.
This makes the rum a little bit more palatable at the end of the day, which makes the whole point of decanting it the best way of serving it out. It really is a lot like a whiskey decanter with the only difference being that it doesn’t have a lot of surface area and the container doesn’t contain any lead in the glass.
A vodka decanter is usually reserved for high-end vodka. Vodka is one of the most popularly gifted spirits all throughout the world as it can be produced anywhere.
The kind of lid that your vodka decanters come with is absolutely critical. This is because you need to make sure that you get to prevent the alcohol from evaporating. Hence, the stopper needs to be absolutely precise and fitting so that the tip of the decanter is given a secure and very airtight seal.
A brandy decanter veers a bit away from tradition. Instead of a usual plain glass bottle, its glass quality better highlights the color of the alcohol. Brandy will at times have certain variations to it and this is something that the decanter will be able to showcase.
Brandy decanters usually come in with some textured glass and this will help it look sparkling. A smoother glass container though will give you a more nuanced or a more subtle touch to it.
A coffee decanter is oftentimes used for serving hot coffee. This can be commonly seen in diners, coffee shops, and even convenience stores. This is a container that has the capacity to accommodate large batches of coffee.
This is great for commercial establishments or large households as it not only keeps coffee hot, it also preserves its flavor. It is also great for keeping guests and family members entertained as it’s convenient for coffee refills.
A coffee decanter is absolutely needed if you are serving coffee for more than just one person. If you are anticipating that you are going to need to keep the coffee flowing for a few hours, then a decanter is definitely a need.
It has a great design as it is built to look elegant and eye-catching. You will be able to take your coffee pouring game to the next level, especially if you’re in need of coffee bar accessories.
Olive Oil Decanter
Olive oil decanters are usually made out of dark-colored glass bottles. This helps out a lot when it comes to keeping your olive oil out of the light. They can also be made out of stainless steel. The whole point of a decanter is that you need to be able to minimize the oil’s UV exposure as much as possible.
Even just a few weeks of sun exposure will cause your olive oil to age tremendously. Keeping it in a dark-colored container and keeping it in a deep and dark place at home will prolong its life span.
It also makes olive oil much easier to pour compared to when they’re contained in the store-bought bottles that they normally come in with. Olive oil, especially the extra virgin type, has a life span of up to two years. However, this isn’t recommended as it tends to degrade the moment that the bottle is opened so it would be best to consume it within 6 months after opening it.
Decanting fruit juices is an essential element in really enjoying the taste and quality of it. A juice decanter helps tremendously in that aspect. It helps you get to the extracted fruit which is a key element in the concentrate process of juicing.
Obviously, you can’t keep your juices in the containers that you juiced them in initially. You would have to transfer them to a container at some point. You can use a carafe or a juice decanter for this function.
However, for the most part, a juice decanter can work better as it will be able to separate any wayward fibers or pulp that you wouldn’t want to be a part of your main liquid.
Here we share the different styles of decanters.
If you’re a newbie or a beginner, it would be best if you stick to a standard glass decanter to get you started with the process. It has a classic form and ultimately thicker walls.
Don’t let the name full you, though. A standard decanter is still an ornamental piece is every aspect. It is usually made out of borosilicate glass and oftentimes has a certain degree of thermal resistance to it.
This decanter is great for beginners as it is very low maintenance. It doesn’t require any special apparatus to clean up and more than that, it is also very much dishwasher safe. It isn’t as delicate as the other types of decanters out there. It is definitely perfect as an entry-level decanter at the end of the day.
Swan or U-Shaped Decanter
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This type of decanter is a particularly classy design. It is characterized by a long neck with a big opening right at the bottom. The reason for its name is that it looks pretty much like a swan’s neck and is usually best for pouring out older or vintage wines. The long neck is great for separating the sediments accumulating right at the bottom of the wine bottle.
Snail Shaped Decanter
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A snail shaped decanter is the recommended decanter style if you’re planning to decant aromatic red wines. It’s quirky and highly aesthetic and it’s great for formal dinner settings. It can help you enhance the aroma and taste of the wine as it aerates it extremely well and can help spread its aroma around while at the same time effectively separating the sediment from the actual liquid.
There is also a notable hole right at the center of the glass bottle. This makes it easy to grip it so you can swirl the wine around the bottle to properly aerate it and so that you will be able to pour the wine efficiently and fairly effortlessly.
Bell Shaped Decanter
A bell shaped decanter is great if you are an alcohol enthusiast who has a penchant for collecting antique pieces at the same time. It is something that’s pretty simple and basic. As the name suggests, it is shaped like a bell.
It also has intricate patterns in it and it normally comes with a glass stopper that’s equipped with a rubber to provide that airtight seal that is much needed for liquor to not evaporate.
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A globe decanter is an extremely stylish decanter design. If you like the concept of drinking with a classy vibe, this will fit right in for you. This container pretty much copies the form of a globe. It’s made out of glass and it comes with a stopper. It also pairs up quite nicely with a wooden rack stand that keeps the globe decanter in place.
A globe decanter is very aesthetic and has a certain old-world charm to it. It will definitely fit right into traditional-looking aesthetics and will be perfect for old libraries, dens, man caves, and the like. There may also be different figures etched right into the glass from ships to cars to motorcycles, and so on.
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An octopus decanter is a work of art and is an absolutely gorgeous piece. It is usually made out of glass that has been hand blown so it’s really more of an artisanal piece. The shape, as the name suggests, is that of an octopus.
The wine is poured in through the octopus figure’s head and it travels down to its eight arms. This eventually leads down to a circular receptacle right at the very bottom of the container.
The beauty and value of an octopus decanter is seeing how the liquid travels up and down the octopus arms. Not only is this highly aesthetic, this also maximizes aeration and makes the spirit more solid in terms of flavor. It’s a definite must-have for gentleman clubs or for people who just really appreciate great aesthetics in a decanter.
A skull decanter is pretty straightforward and exactly as the name suggests. It’s a decanter in the shape of a skull, for lack of a better description. It’s an acquired taste or something a little more singular in terms of preferences but it does have its own appeal.
If you are into something very manly or something that has a somewhat creepy feel to it, a skull decanter would be the perfect piece for the job. This is also great for themed parties such as Halloweens and the like.
It is oftentimes made out of glass so that the color of the liquor can be seen from the outside. Its stopper is usually right at the top of the skull-shaped glass as well. It has a somewhat sinister feel to it but this is exactly why some would find this so attractive in the first place.
A jellyfish decanter’s design is very similar to that of an octopus decanter. It is made out of glass with the jellyfish head right at the top. The liquid flows down through its tentacles with a rounded receptacle where the liquor will eventually flow down to and get stored in the bottom.
It’s quirky and whimsical. If you are into cute-looking glass decanters, a jellyfish decanter is a pretty great entry-level choice for you to take a look at.
Square Glass Decanter
A square glass decanter is highly recommended if you would like to store spirits such as rum, whiskey, or wine. If you like to switch it up a bit and vary with the drinks, a square glass decanter will turn out to be the perfect piece to accommodate this for you. This container is very symmetrical. It makes it really easy to handle and efficiently pour out any type of alcohol in a glass.
This square glass decanter typically comes with its own glass stopper as well. It’s great for storing alcoholic elixirs for longer periods of time. They can come in with a wide variety of designs. Some can be simple and minimalist while some can come in with the most detailed of pieces.
A twist decanter is either cylindrical or square in design but it comes in with a twist, an actual and literal one. Its structure is twisted right at the bottom. It’s great if you’re looking for a decanter that has a sophisticated and classic touch to it.
It will usually come in with a stopper but there may be instances wherein it won’t have one either. It depends on the design that you’re buying; whether it’s meant to decant wine, scotch, brandy, run, or any other type of alcohol or spirit.
Novelty decanters can come in a myriad of shapes and designs. They can be used to contain vodka, whiskey, or gin. They can go anywhere from something sentimental to something avant-garde or something even just downright quirky.
Some are shaped like grenades, perfume bottles, skulls, and so on. It can literally be in any shape or design you can possibly think of. If it can be formed by hand blowing the glass, you can be assured that it can certainly be fashioned into a novelty designer decanter of your choice.
Chiseled Side Decanter
A chiseled side decanter is great if you prefer your decanters to be personalized for you. There are tons of amazing options for personalization from getting your name and maybe even a small quote or mantra engraved. You can even come up with your own seal or coats of arms or design of choice.
This type of decanter is commonly used for vintage spirits such as scotch and whisky. It has a very handsome and manly feel to it. This type of decanter design can be quite ideal if you have a modern designed home. Chiseled side decanters usually stand 10 to 11 inches tall and roughly 5 inches wide.
They have a standardized capacity of 23 ounces of liquor or so. If you want something that looks and feels regal and something that will fit right into a contemporary design, your chiseled side decanter will turn out to be your best bet.
Crystal Decanter: Decanters that are made out of crystal sparkle under the light so they can turn out to be very eye-catching. A majority of crystal decanters these days are vintage so they hold a certain amount of value as well.
They’re very attractive and valuable at the same time. When you look further than aesthetics though, crystal is a great material to consider in terms of functionality. It’s because of the fact that it is far more durable than any type of glass out there.
A crystal decanter will typically have thicker walls. And because of these thicker traits, it means that the shapes and silhouettes they form will typically be simpler or more minimalist.
You can usually tell the difference between a glass and crystal decanter from the sound it makes make you clink it with glassware. Crystal rings and the sounds reverberate through whereas glass just clinks.
Leaded Crystal Decanter: A leaded crystal decanter is much like crystal except that it is denser. The lead in the crystal brings in a wider spectrum of light refraction. This means that it will sparkle so much more than typical crystal or glass.
It has an exceptional color and is most prized for the aesthetics that it brings in at the end of the day. One thing to take note of though is the fact that it isn’t exactly safe to use for the long term.
There can be a possible risk of lead poisoning. When the liquor is stored for prolonged periods of time in the glass, it may cause the lead to leech through. This can accumulate and may lead to toxic levels when ingested.
Atlantis Crystal Decanter: Atlantis crystal is known to be one of the purest crystals in the world. They can be either contemporary or artisanal. This crystal comes from Portugal and is extremely fine and handmade. It is proudly artisanal and a decanter made of Atlantis crystal is easily considered to be some of the finest and the most valuable in the world.
Glass Decanter: Glass is one of the most common out of all of the decanter materials and is among the popular home bar ideas on a budget. It’s solid, reliable, and the best part of all is that it can be easily embellished, colored, and customized.
Most of the personalized decanters are made out of glass. Glassware is something that is naturally beautiful and it can easily add to your drinking experience as a decanter.
Cut Glass Decanter: A cut glass decanter is basically still a type of glass decanter but the difference is in the technique of how the glass is decorated. It is oftentimes ornamented with other elements such as patterns etched right on the surface.
This is either with the use of an abrasive wheel or a diamond-tipped glass etcher. It’s a highly artisanal glass and how they do the decoration is that they usually hold it up against a stone wheel to keep it moving. The patterns may either be pre-designed or freehand.
Uranium Glass Decanter: Uranium glass has uranium in it. This is usually in an oxide diuranate form. It is often in powder form and is added to the glass mix before it is then melted down with coloration and other elements eventually added to it.
Uranium has been used for years to make green and yellow glass colors. A special trait in a uranium glass decanter is that when seen under a black light, it glows bright green. Although uranium is technically radioactive, uranium glass is fairly safe to use. Keep in mind though that this is only if the glass is undamaged.
Aerators are of course for the purpose of introducing air or oxygen into the spirit or the liquor that you’re placing inside the decanter. It will allow your spirits to “breathe”, so to speak. When mixed in with the perfect amount of air, it allows some of the alcohol content to evaporate, causing it to be a little more palatable, and making the flavor a little more solid.
Wine Aerators: Wine aerators bank on the simple purpose or act of aerating wine. When done right, it can literally bring your wine and all the flavors that come with it, to life. It can totally enhance your wine-drinking experience.
And the best part of all of this is that wine aerators aren’t very expensive at all. But in exchange, it can easily turn even the most so-so of low-priced wines into an enjoyable one.
Using An Aerator For Liquor: Aerating your liquor may not sound like much to you but it may surprise you. The truth is that it can do so much for the quality of your liquor from the aroma, to the taste, to the feel, and even to the aftertaste long after you’ve swallowed it.
When you aerate your spirits, you allow the different intermingling aromas to surface. This eventually leads to them harmonizing amongst themselves. Hence, you will be able to maximize appreciating them once it’s all done and over with. If you really want to release your liquor and unleash its truest potential, aerating it is definitely the key.
Using an aerator is pretty simple. It pairs up conveniently with your decanter. You just need to insert your aerator into the bottle opening and then pour your liquor directly into your decanter. If you don’t want that extra step, you can have it poured directly into the glass.
Make sure that the bottle is tilted at a 45-degree angle. It’s simple and convenient and it can do so much for your liquor’s taste. More than that, what you can be assured of is that this is something that you will be able to do with just one hand.
Decanter sizes are pretty standard. They come in 0.75 liter, 1 liter, and some up to 1.5 liters. If you have a bottle of wine, for example, it is typically at a 0.75 liter volume.
Buying a decanter of the same size might not give your spirits enough space to breathe. It would be best if you go with the larger-sized decanters at 1 liter or above.
How to Use a Decanter
The first thing you need to make sure of is that the bottle has been upright for the past 24 hours. This is so that the sediments will be able to settle comfortably right at the bottom. This will make it easier for you to separate the liquid from the sediment when you decant it.
There are two ways to decant: via regular decanting or shock decanting. Regular decanting is the process of pouring the liquor slowly into the decanter. You can either put the decanter on the table or hold it in one hand with the liquor bottle in the other.
Slowly pouring it in is highly recommended, especially for older wines. This will allow you to easily spot the sediment. Keep it well let, preferably near a lamp or by lighting a match or lighter under the neck for better visuals.
Shock decanting, on the other hand, involves tilting the bottle vertically into a decanter. This won’t help so much with the separation of sediments but when the wine hits the bottom of the decanter with a certain amount of force, it swirls and splashes around.
This leads to accelerated aeration and works best for younger wines or wines that tend to still have a lot of tannins in them, preferably those younger than 2 years.
How Long To Decant
It all depends on how the type of wine you’re decanting. The rule of thumb is that you are to keep you’re your wine in the decanter for 15 to 20 minutes before you begin drinking it for best results. This is for regular decanting. You can always experiment and taste test the wine though before you proceed.
Here’s a list of common wines and how long it will take to decant them:
Zinfandel: 30 minutes
Malbec: 30 to 60 minutes
Pinot Noir: 30 to 60 minutes
Cabernet Franc: 30 to 60 minutes
Barbera: 30 to 60 minutes
Merlot: 30 to 60 minutes
Tempranillo: 30 to 60 minutes
Cabernet Sauvignon: 2 hours
Grenache: 30 to 60 minutes
Shiraz: 2 hours
Madeira: 2 hours
Sangiovese: 2 hours
Port: 2 to 3 hours
Barolo: 3 hours
Nabbiolo: 3 hours
If you noticed, the list only includes red wine. This is because you don’t usually need to decant white wine. The only time you decant it is if it smells burnt or smells a little off.
How To Clean A Decanter
Cleaning a decanter might sound tricky because of the long neck and other crevices that are hard to reach with a regular sponge. However, there’s a simple technique to this. All you need is some hot water and some vinegar.
Pour that right into your decanter and sit it out for 10 minutes or so. Once done, you just have to drain and rinse it and your decanter should be as good as new.
Take note that it should be hot water, not boiling water. Overly hot temperatures could end up ruining the glass.
Best Type Of Decanter For Red Wine
The best type of decanter for your red wine is something that has a long neck and a wide and spacious base. The reason for this is that this type of wine decanter will provide maximum oxygen exposure for your wine, initiating aeration.
Decanting Vs Filtering
Decanting is the process of letting the spirit sit undisturbed so that the sediments can settle at the bottom. You then decant it by pouring it on a decanter, effectively separating the sediments from the liquid.
Filtering is almost the same process with the only difference being that you use filter paper to separate the mixture from the sediments even more. Filtration is more effective in spotting and separating the insoluble particles that might otherwise come along when you pour out the wine.
Decanter Vs. Aerator
While both items help in aerating your liquor, the key difference between the two would have to be time. A decanter will take much longer as you need to swirl it around the bottle and expose it to as much oxygen as you can.
At the same time, let it sit before you pour the liquor out. An aerator, on the other hand, will pass through the wine nozzle and instantly aerate the liquid as you pour it out to the glass.
Carafe Vs Decanter
Carafes and decanters contain liquids to be consumed just the same. The main difference is that a carafe is typically straight and long whereas a decanter is bowl-shaped at the bottom for the purpose of aerating the wine.
See more related content in our article about the best built-in bar ideas on this page.