Purchasing my first wine decanter
Is there any functional reason that the high end Riedel decanters cost 5 or 10 times then their low end counterparts? What separates the Riedel Amadeo from the O from the Vivant decanter that I can buy at Target or $20? The Amadeo does look very pretty aesthetically and has a wide base for a good surface area, but I cant imagine that this would be easy to clean. The Spiegelau Vino Grande seems like a good deal, though cleaning and pouring would seem to be difficult.
The are the criteria I'm using, in order of importance:
1. Wide base, good surface area, narrow neck
2. Ease of cleaning
4. Ease of pouring
Am I missing anything?
I'd appreciate any comments, suggestions, and personal experience.
It depends on what you are going to use the decanter for. I have many different decanters and always find myself using my most simple and modest ones. The $20 Reidel decanters at Target are very good. Thats all you need. It has a nice shape, pours well and is really perfect for your first decanter. More elaborate ones can be nice for more formal dinners or if you decide you want to start a collection. The Target one can be used in any situation with no problem. I have some just like it.
Also, if you think about getting more than one and you ever serve magnums... the traditional decanter won't fit the whole bottle. I've found some nice ones at a modest price (below $40) at Crate and Barrel.
I know guys & girls around here are gonna look at me in a weird way, but I must confess:
My fave is the separatory funnel w/teflon plug, like the one in the link below.
I can elaborate further, but that takes time.
Just get one, it's cheap, then we can talk.
Those look cool. Wouldn't recommend it for OP's first decanter, but its interesting. A few quesitons...
1. How do you support the unit?
2. Assume you "pour" by opening the valve and the wine goes directly into the glass, right? Thats the coolest part
3. Assume you decant the wine directly into the funnel, correct? (If not, than its just a pouring tool).
4. So height for the support mechanism has to be high enough so a glass can fit comfortably under it and low enough to be able to decant the bottle. Does the support mech allow that?
5. With a traditional decanter you can use a light source (candle, flashlight, etc) while decanting to see the sediment as it approaches the neck. As this looks like it must be higher than counter height it seems like these won't work so well. What do you use for "light" if needed for bottles with sediment?
6. How do you clean the valve part of the unit?
7. What are the dimensions?
8. What sizes do you use... ie. use for Magnums, 3L?
9. As it pours from the bottom, any sediment that may still be in the wine will collect at the bottom and go directly into the glass. So, decanting properly seems to be a must. Has this presented any problems?
Very curious to hear how you use it. I like the pouring concept for "clean" (young) wines. Could be fun.
1) These types of funnels are sold in lab supply stores. I actually purchased mine on line ( about $60, IIRC ); seller was a bitch, I wouldn't recommend. Anyways, they come with their own (heavy) metallic base, steel round column and semi-circular round holder shaped like a ? sign, plus clamps to attach to the column.
2) Pouring: with valve closed, I first tilt the entire funnel (easily done by adjusting the clamps) until it's as horizontal as it gets. This provides max exposure to air, slow pour, plus the sediments fall in the bulky part of the funnel.
4) The steel column is about 3 ft high, so that's no problem. But again, since I tilt the funnel (see 2 above), the glass must be a little higher than the base of the contraption.
5) Any light source placed on the side of the funnel opposite to the pourer will do.
6) Valve is teflon, cleaning is a breeze. Just rinse the funnel and let the water flow through.
7) Again, the column is about 3 ft high, the base is smaller than a regular (8" x 11") sheet of paper, I'd say 6" x 8".
8) I bought a 1 liter funnel, since I never buy bottles larger than 750 ml. Plenty of different sizes available though.
9) See 2 above. Any sediment that didn't fall into the bulky part of the funnel gets trapped along the walls.
Hope that helps.
The essential difference between high-priced and low-priced decanters is often no more than aesthetics. It is aesthetically pleasing to some to know their decanters are crystal. That fact may be visually indiscernible, but according to many folks I have spoken with, they "know".
I recommend glass decanters in a shape/design that is pleasing to your eye.
I favor 'Captain's decanters' and 'ducks'.
My wife has stopped buying me wine glasses and now buys me decanters for my birthday/Christmas/etc. However, there is no need to get a fancy decanter. I use my Riedel the most, but when I need more than one decanter I have no problem pulling out the $10 Mikasa glass Captain decanter.
I wouldn't worry too much about a narrow neck, since sometimes the combination of wide base and narrow neck makes pouring a pain. Other than that, I'd say your criteria are right. But something that is pleasing to the eye is always a good thing as long as it is functional and easy to clean.