This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to what people in the food industry are eating, drinking, and buying right now. Here Simone Spilka writes about the chic decanter that’s perfect for serious and non-serious wine drinkers alike.
At my parents house a short drive from Napa Valley, special family occasions always called for a full-bodied red that my dad had been saving. We’d pick out a bottle, open it, decant it, and allow time for the wine to breathe before we enjoyed. The process of transferring wine from its bottle into a larger vessel allows it to oxygenate, or “breathe,” enhancing the flavor and helping to separate out sediment that has formed over time. Red wines—and older red wines in particular—benefit from decanting before or while drinking.
It’s safe to say the wines my parents drink are far more “serious” than the ones you’ll find at my apartment in New York—I’m more of a lambrusco or natural wine person—so it never occurred to me to own a decanter. But after receiving this translucent amber decanter as a wedding gift, I’ve never looked back. Consider me a decanter convert.
It’s worth noting that the maker, Maison Balzac, refers to the glass vessel as a carafe and recommends “filling it with your favorite beverage.” (For me, that would be wine.) Unlike my parents’ traditional decanter, whose wide bottom encourages ample contact between wine and oxygen, it’s not specifically intended for fancy, full-bodied reds, and that’s why I love it. It’s colorful, fun, and adds a pop of color to my table.
Do I use it to let big Zins breathe? Of course. But I don’t discriminate: orange, sparkly, and white wines are welcome, too. (While it might seem sacrilegious to decant a sparkling wine, it can reduce the level of carbonation so you can focus more on the aromatics than the texture, if that’s your preference.) Even nonalcoholic drinks are invited to the party; my Maison Balzac decanter also assures the classiest batch of mocktails around. Since it’s handblown with heat-resistant borosilicate glass, you can put it safely in the dishwasher after a long night (or after multiple bottles).
If you don’t consider yourself a “serious enough” wine drinker to own a decanter, know that there’s no such thing. A decanter doesn’t have to be stuffy or serious; in fact, it can be entirely the opposite.