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The Ideal Decanter

Carafes or flasks came before decanters. There was little distinction, in fact, between a bottle and a flask until corks became commonplace in the 18th century. Both did the same job: to bring wine from the cask in the cellar to the table.

The earliest decanters, dating from around 1730, had features of contemporary bottles, including a ridged neck to allow the stopper to be fixed on with string. Most early decanters were mallet-shaped with a squat body and a tall neck. One oddity of the early 18th century was the. cruciform decanter, where the body was divided into four sections to allow rapid cooling of the wine when the decanter was immersed in ice.

Later in the 18th century globe and shaft shapes evolved, followed by elegant tapering shapes. Neck rings, common on late 18th-century decanters, evolved to make tapering decanters easier to hold. All these basic shapes are reproduced today. Modern decanters have reverted to the plain glass of early 18th-century designs after a period in the 19th century when decoration and especially heavily cut glass were in vogue.

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