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Decanters And Carafes

Decanters must be clean. They should be cleaned in the same way as glasses with plenty of hot water and plenty of rinsing. Getting them dry is harder. Polish the outside with a cloth as you would with glasses, and drain moisture from the inside by inverting the decanter. If very hot water is used, more moisture will evaporate from the decanter. To drain the decanter, use a stand or wedge it upside down in a warm cupboard. The stand has a smooth wooden rod over which the decanter is placed, and a heavily weighted base for stability. Most households have a warm airing cupboard into which a decanter can be wedged to allow draining of excess moisture.

Extra care is necessary when storing decanters as they can trap stale air which will taint the wine when the decanter is next used. After the decanter has been cleaned and is completely dry, store it unstoppered: if the stopper is in place it will trap air in the decanter and lead to staleness. Before using a decanter which has been stored for some time, rinse well with clean, untainted water.

With time, all decanters seem to become stained and discoloured. Sometimes stains can be carefully removed with a flexible bottle brush. Another remedy is the soluble powder sold for cleaning false teeth: a solution made from this product removes stains from decanters if they are left full overnight.

Decanter stoppers frequently get lost, especially with antique decanters. A stopper is not strictly necessary, certainly if the wine is to be consumed at one sitting, but wines like vintage port, which will survive in a decanter for some days, demand a stopper. It is also prudent to stopper red wines that have been decanted before a meal, unless you want to accelerate the softening process by encouraging further contact with air. It is sometimes possible to find replacement stoppers, but beware of those that are not quite a perfect fit: they can subsequently damage the neck of the decanter. A used champagne cork makes a utilitarian-looking stopper for many decanters, but does the effectively.

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