The use of decanters for serving has played a significant role throughout the history of wine. In ancient times, wine, as well as several other products such as olive oil, grapes, fish, grain and other commodities were stored and transported in amphoras, a large ceramic vase with two handles and a long narrow neck and bowl shaped body. Decanters would be filled with wine from the amphoras and brought to the table where they could be more easily handled and served.
The Ancient Romans established the use of glass as a material for decanters; however, after the fall of the Roman Empire glass production was scarce, causing the majority of decanters to be made from other material such as bronze, sliver, gold or earthenware. The Venetians reintroduced glass decanters during the Renaissance period and initiated the style of a long slender neck that opens to a wide body, thus increasing the exposed surface area of the wine, allowing it to react with air. British glass makers introduced the stopper in the 1730’s to limit exposure to air. Since then, there has been little change to the fundamental aspects of the decanter.
The build up of sediment during the aging process of the older red wines makes the use of the decanter necessary to make the wine drinkable. Decanting is the process by which the sediment is removed. This process is achieved by pouring the wine into the carafe or decanter leaving the sediment in the original bottle. While the sediment is not harmful, it does not make for a pleasant wine drinking experience. Most wine consumers today, opt for the white wines and many young red wines which are produced to be consumed within two to three years and do not have a lot of sediment build up. The use of a decanter would be more a matter of preference.
For today’s wine consumers, whether serving straight from the bottle, decanter, or carafe, all is acceptable and depends on an individual’s personal style. willamette wine tours