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Wine Decanters Aren't Worth the Money or The Hassle

I'm sure that by the end of the week, Georg Riedel will have a contract out on my life, but no matter. This needs saying, and I'm ready to face the consequences.

Fancy wine decanters are a waste of your money. They are also a royal pain in the neck.

Oh sure, they're beautiful and elegant. They exude class and sophistication. Some of them even rise to the level of art. But when it comes to what they're actually good for, 97.9999% of them are a complete waste of money.

Don't get me wrong. This is not a rant against decanting wine. I love to decant wine, both to eliminate sediment in older wines, as well as give air to some wines that dramatically improve with a little aeration. I always decant Italian Sangiovese, for instance, as I believe those wines literally require air in order to be enjoyed fully. I've also learned to decant especially complex (and old) white wines, as these also seem to blossom with some time and air.

Decanting is great. But decanters suck. I've completely given up on them as a wine accessory. Here's why:


They are nearly impossible to clean.

At best, they require a special, flexible brush that can help you get down that narrow neck into the bowl. But most of the time you can't get enough leverage to actually get that crystal completely scrubbed free of the sediment and deposits of the wine. Then when the darn thing dries, you can polish the outside, but getting water spots or deposits off the inside is like trying to lick the inside of a coke bottle. And as with all good crystal, the dishwasher is not a good option (though that is what a lot of restaurants do).

Which is why my wine decanter these days looks like this:


Less than $20. Easy to clean. Easy to swirl. Easy to pour.

A work of art it is not, but it is the best damn wine decanter I have ever used.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud