The Question: My brother is studying food and hospitality and lately he's really been getting into wine. I want to get him a decanter for Christmas. Since I am a student, it would have to be economical. Is $60 too little?
The Answer: That is by no means too little. I have suggestions.
Because your brother’s going to be a food-service professional, I’d be remiss not to mention Riedel. The Austrian brand is the professional’s top choice. Riedel pioneered wine-specific stemware shapes that enhance flavours of various popular wine styles. It also makes many styles of decanters. You can’t afford the high-end Riedel Sommeliers Decanter, which, at $375, would grace my table only if I were to win the lottery. But for $59.95, the Riedel Cabernet Decanter is attractive and conveniently shaped. Most decanters feature a wide, pancake-flat base to maximize the wine’s surface area and contact with air (oxygen enhances aroma and flavour in most wines). The Cabernet decanter has a narrower profile, more like a bowling pin. What it lacks in breadth it makes up for with a tidier silhouette, taking up less space on the table. You can find Riedel models at upscale kitchenware stores across Canada and at specialty retailers such as The Wine Establishment (www.thewineestablishment.com) and Rosehill Wine Cellars (www.rosehillwinecellars.com), both in the Toronto area.
My current top choice for under $60 comes from Italy. It’s called the Bormioli Rocco Aurum Jug and it retails for $59.95. It looks like a flower vase or a jug that you might store Kool-Aid in, but there’s an O-shaped hole in the middle that serves as a handle. It, too, is available at The Wine Establishment as well as at Indigo bookstores.
Another good brand is Eisch from Germany. The Eisch Celebration Decanter sports the more conventional shape – wide at the bottom – as well as a thick punt indentation on the bottom, which gives it a solid feel. The glass surface features a special treatment that minimizes the decanter’s tendency to drip at the rim. The Celebration Decanter (viewable on the distributor’s website, www.winecellarexpress.com) retails for $69.95.
A nice accessory, if you’ve got any cash to spare, is a decanter drying stand. It’s basically a stand with a single arm that rises up. Rest the stand on a dish towel on a table, then, after you’ve rinsed the decanter (simple hot water is usually fine, though you can use a light soap solution before you rinse with water), turn the decanter upside down and rest it on the stand. This minimizes the risk of tipping. The Trudeau company sells one for $12.95 across Canada.
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