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Decanting: For and Against
How To Decant
Which Wines To Decant?
Choosing A Decanter
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The Ideal Decanter

Connoisseurs seek out the classic decanters of the late 18th century, and modern reproductions, because they offer near-perfect conditions for fine wine. A decanter should be of good, clear glass; it should be big enough (there is nothing worse than having a 650ml decanter and a 750ml bottle of wine) and it should not be difficult to keep clean.

Most wine lovers look for clear glass decanters, leaving the cut-glass and decorated ones for spirits such as whisky or brandy. Clear glass shows off the colour of the wine. The neck of the decanter should be broad enough to allow easy decanting, and there should be a stopper that fits.

Decanters come in bottle and magnum sizes. The latter are most useful: a magnum of wine may be an occasional treat, but it is usually fine wine and therefore deserves decanting. Do not pour two bottles of the same wine into a magnum unless you have tasted a little from each first. There may well be variation between two bottles of the same wine (it is a traditional Bordeaux adage that "there are no great old wines, only great old bottles of wine"), and one may even be corked, or otherwise out of condition. Pour that into a decanter containing sound wine and you have lost two bottles. Of course, a magnum can be split between two bottle-sized decanters. Even larger bottles demand a fleet of decanters or well-washed bottles.

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