Walker's decanter picks

The Best Wine Decanters, According to Walker

Walker was recently interviewed by Food52 to weigh in on a selection of the best wine decanters that are as stylish as they are practical--and why they should matter on your dining table.

As the article's intro shares, it’s no secret that wine decanters can be quite an expensive investment depending on material and design. To help make the buying process easier and to answer your burning questions, they tapped Walker's expertise. Enjoy these excerpts from his published advice.

Why Invest In A Wine Decanter?

Decanting is the best method to ease a wine into waking up. There are things you can accomplish only with a decanter that are important for certain types of wine. Long-aging varietals like Nebbiolo and white Burgundy benefit from it greatly. It helps younger vintages develop more complexity, as well as breathe life back into older bottles (think 20 years or more). Decanters help wine become a better version of itself.

What Does A Wine Decanter Do?

With a decanter, you are coaxing the best traits out of certain wines by aerating them. It’s also ideal for bottles that have been sitting in a wine cellar for a while. Decanters help separate sediment. It is the best way to allow some varietals to open [so that] their nuances express themselves, especially white Burgundy. Not all wine should be decanted, however.

How Does A Wine Decanter’s Shape Influence The Wine?

The truth is, any glass vessel that has a large surface area and can hold an entire bottle of wine will work. You don’t always need an expensive, glamorous, or crystal one. You can use a water pitcher. It doesn’t look as great on the table, but they are completely adequate for the job. You’re welcome to go as ornate and elaborate as you want—they’ll be primarily works of art but not necessarily going to affect the outcome.

Things To Look For While Shopping For A Wine Decanter

When it comes to pouring wine as a tableside experience, certain decanters are much better than others. Some shapes are easier to manage and pour well without spilling any of the wine and are generally easier to clean. Think about capacity—most are designed to hold one bottle of wine, so if you’re living that magnum life, go a size up. If your wine has sediment and requires filtering, choose a shape with a wide enough opening that allows you to balance a funnel with cheesecloth. Stay away from the gimmicks of aerating devices and accessories. They abuse the wine and don’t help in any discernible way.

Which to buy?

Zalto has the most classic and well-performing decanter collection. If you want something more visually arresting, Riedel has the best in the market.

For dinner parties, I grab the Riedel Escargot Decanter. Their Swan is a very, very appreciated wedding gift—but there are more affordable versions of the shape elsewhere.

Any glass vessel that has a large surface area and can hold an entire bottle of wine will work. Take a cue from my buddy Jared Hooper, a wine director who would decant the restaurant’s bottles in a 2-foot bong. Bong appetit!

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