decanters for specific wines?? - Printable Version

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- susie50 - 01-26-2001 10:32 PM

Does anyone know if there is a specific shape decanter to use for red and white wines for a formal party?

- Innkeeper - 01-27-2001 08:00 AM

Hi Susie, and welcome to the Wine Board. Formal parties and decanters are not mutually inclusive. Very little white wine ever needs decanting; and unless this is a very, very expensive formal party, it is unlikly you will need to decant any reds. If you don't want wine bottles on the table, set up a rack or bench behind it for the server's use.

If you feel you must use decanters, go to any place you would find fine stemware. Rich's in Atlanta comes to mind. The choice is quite personal. If you are going to use them again for anything, would go for ones with wide mouths. This makes serious decanting easier.

- hotwine - 01-27-2001 09:40 AM

In shopping for decanters, please remember that fine crystal has a high lead content, on the order of 24%. And leaving wine in such a decanter for a long period can result in the wine leaching lead from the crystal, thereby contaminating the wine with lead.

We have several heavy old ship's decanters of fine lead crystal that we no longer use for wine or spirits, but merely for decoration. (In fact , they are all currently hidden away in a sideboard...)

I'm with Innkeeper about serving directly from the bottles. Not only is it more convenient for the server, it also allows guests to see the wine labels instead of having to ask what they're being served.

- susie50 - 01-27-2001 11:40 AM

Thanks for the replies concerning the wine decanters. This is an afternoon reception for a very formal group of old southern ladies who have ALWAYS used glass (preferably crystal) decanters on a silver waiter tray to serve red and white wines at one end of a formal dining table. The other end is always a silver tea and coffee service with a samovar to serve the coffee. I know what they always have used but I wondered if there were any real rules about the shapes to use. I would agree with just serving out of the bottles but the dear ladies would certainly frown on that and think me "improper"!! Thanks again.

- hotwine - 01-27-2001 12:12 PM

Now I understand - THAT kind of group. My dear 89-year-old mother is a member of three such groups that meet monthly.

Here's what little I have learned on the subject:

- The heavy ship's decanters that I mentioned above are for distilled spirits, such as whiskey or brandy, rather than wine.

- There are pairs of decanters available that would be suitable for serving white & red wine from a single silver platform. This type of decanter is rather slim, as opposed to being bulbous, and the two fit into seats on the silver service.

- An antique claret decanter is bulbous, with an attached handle, like a milk pitcher. That would certainly be suitable for the red wine, if you're unable to find a matched pair for serving both white and red.

There is a Web site devoted to decanters of all types, at, that offers excellent views of the different types, and offers most for sale.

Good luck.

- susie50 - 01-27-2001 05:49 PM

Thanks very have helped.

These little ladies are really cute and I enjoy being with them twice a month. They don't really "decant" as in the real sense of checking for sediment, etc., you know. They just think it looks nicer this way!!