If you decided to be devotee of decanting after past two weeks of paeans to the practice, some notes.
Decanting works in any container made of inert material (think glass) that holds more than bottle you are decanting. Best decanters allow for considerable exposure to air, so use one that holds about twice as much as your bottle.

Good decanters bulge at the base to allow contents of 750 mL bottle to fill to point where there is widest possible surface exposure. Such decanters are called “shaft and globe.” They are what you most likely will find at a store; expect to pay about $30. You can go more expensive, but since you will wash often, you will break occasionally. Purchase accordingly.

One indication shaft-and-globe is ideal: it has been popular for 250 years. When you decant into such a vessel, take heart Thomas Jefferson would approve.

Jefferson decanted to avoid sediment, a concern with older wines. If sediment is the issue, handle bottle gently, put light source behind bottle so you can see sediment when it approaches the neck. It does not matter if you store bottle horizontally or vertically; it does matter that you rest bottle in your chosen position for hours so sediment will settle.

Today, you usually decant to expose wine to air. Pour reverently. Notice how wine clings to glass and spreads out as it runs down inside of the decanter, exposing everything to air. Notice how you salivate as you watch.

Bonus: decanter is impressively elegant way to present wine at table.


• Layer Cake Shiraz South Australia 2010. Delicious smooth big fruit; plum, currants; pleasing tannin. Classic South Aussie value winner. Get some, improve by decanting. $14

• Jean Reverdy Sancerre La Reine Blanche 2009. Flowers, melon nose; racy citrus; precise tangy zesty acidity; medium-full body; Parker 91 pt. It’s white, still will benefit from decanting. $28

• Michel David Earthquake Petite Sirah Lodi 2008. Plum, blue and black berries, olives, chocolate; smoky, roasted meat, intriguing taste; firm tannins—definitely decant. $28