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Most wine is at its best served straight from the bottle, without further fuss. Some wines, however, gain by being moved from their bottle into a decanter, a carafe or even a jug. Decanting helps wine in two ways: it frees a wine from any solid matter, or sediment, that may have gathered in the bottle, and it allows contact with air, which may speed up the wine's maturation. The first is a practical necessity if the wine has a deposit. Each type of decanting demands a different technique.

Decanting used to be essential for most red wines, as deposits of solid matter accumulated in the bottle as the wines aged. In order to enjoy a clear, bright glass of wine, free from unsightly sludge, wine was carefully poured from its bottle into a clean container. Today, wine-making techniques are different, and only a few red wines develop such a deposit.

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