What is a wine carafe and what is it used for?

Whether we are wine lovers or not, we have all seen a wine decanter sitting on a table. But what exactly is it used for? We will try to answer the questions you may have about this object.

First of all, what is a carafe?

A carafe is a container that is used to serve alcohol, and more specifically wine. Most of the time, the carafe is made of glass or crystal. The carafe has several functions and several shapes (often related to the function!) Unlike a pitcher, the carafe generally has no handle. It can be used to aerate the wine, i.e. to allow a larger exchange surface between the air and the wine than in an open bottle. It can also be used to decant wine, i.e. to allow a wine (especially old wine) to get rid of any deposits that may have accumulated over time. This is called a decanter. Finally, some decanters have no other purpose than aesthetics, they are only used for serving!

Why put wine in a carafe?

Pouring wine into a carafe therefore has several functions. But what is the purpose, and what will be the effect of this action on the wine?

Aerate the wine

When we put the wine into a carafe, i.e. when we use it to aerate the wine, the exchange surface between the oxygen and the wine must be important. For this reason, you should choose a carafe with a flared opening and a flared container. It is a process that can be anticipated, even if it is difficult to know how long in advance you will have to do it.

Decant the wine

Using a carafe and a candle to decant wine

When decanting the wine, the wine is gently poured against the inner side of the carafe and with light (by a candle in the proper way). The goal is to pour the wine without the sediments (deposits) that could have accumulated over time.

What’s the use?

Carafing is the action of pouring a wine into another container (in this case a carafe) to aerate it. Decanting is the action of pouring wine into another container (in this case a carafe as well!) but with the aim of separating the deposits from the wine. In all cases, it is better to be delicate and pour the wine gently by directing it against the inner side of the decanter.

Why serve wine in a carafe?

As we have seen, there are three reasons for pouring wine into a carafe:

  • Aerate the wine
  • Decant the wine
  • Aesthetics: it will simply be used to serve the wine.

The carafe is an impressive object. But when you know what it is used for and when you tame it a little, it can be useful to improve wine tasting. But you still have to choose it carefully. This is what we propose in our next article focused on the choice of the carafe according to the wines to be decanted.

To be continued!


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