Why You Should Buy A Crystal Wine Decanter

by Kristie Irwin

Throughout history, decanters have played an important part in the serving of drinks. The use of glass for making them virtually stopped after the fall of the Roman Empire and did not come back into common use until after the Renaissance. The Venetians were the first to produce a crystal wine decanter with a long neck, opening to a wide body which was similar to some of the styles still produced today.

Decanting was very important in the past. This was because the wines contained a lot of sediment due to the aging process. In order to deal with this problem, they were decanted, leaving the sediment behind.

The action of decanting also aerated the wine. The large surface area in contact with the air in the decanter changed it, encouraging the development of the more complex aromas and softening the bite. Decanters are also perfect for showing off the color and clarity of wines.

Decanters may have been used through the years for these purposes but the appeal was not just in the function but in the form too. As time progressed, sediment became less of an issue as the quality of wines improved. The aesthetic appearance of decanters became very important. Craftsmen competed with each other to display their skills. Decanters were hand-blown, hand-cut and engraved, making each one unique.

Lead crystal was favored for making decanters as it sparkled beautifully. With all the health warnings today about the danger of lead to our health, this has changed somewhat. Decanters today are mostly made of crystalline glass which is lead-free. Older decanters containing lead are still collected for their beauty and there are those who feel that they are still safe to use. They feel that wines are not in them for long enough for the lead to leach into them.

Many decanters today are made from crystalline glass. This is an extremely fine quality glass. Usually glass is composed of a mixture of sand, soda, potassium and lime, which is melted at high temperatures. Metallic oxides are added to make finer quality glass with enhanced clarity and brilliance. Obviously, the prices of decanters vary considerably, depending on how they are made and what materials are used to make them.

Decanters need to be spotless for the best effect. Sometimes it is difficult to remove residues, particularly if they have a long neck and a wide bottom. Using a scrubber of anything from crushed ice to coarse salt when washing helps to loosen stains from the areas which are hard to reach.

Who actually owns decanters today? Perhaps you think that they are only owned by those who live in stately homes or by proprietors of antique shops. This is not true. Anyone who wants the best from their wines should own one. Even today when wines are much improved, some still benefit from spending time in decanters. Contrary to what you may think, they are easy to use.

A crystal wine decanter sets off the color and clarity of wines beautifully because of its transparency. Decanters are made today in such a variety of styles that there is one to suit every taste. It can also make a perfect gift for someone who entertains frequently as it brings style to any occasion.

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