A wine should be decanted if when it is opened it feels tight and closed. A quick aeration can help release the phenols and aromatics in the wine, although too much air can oxidise the wine too quickly, spoiling it. Spirits fare better for longer periods in decanters as the high alcohol content helps prevent oxidation. Be wary, however, of ports and sherries that have been sitting on your favourite relative’s shelf for several months – they will probably be ruined.


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