Port Decanter

A port decanter is a type of vessel that is utilized to hold the decantation (process for the separation of mixtures by eliminating a layer of liquid particularly one from which a precipitate has already settled) of a port wine which contains the sediment. A port wine (Vinho do Porto) is a Portuguese fortified wine made exclusively in the Douro Valley of Portugal. Port decanters are generally used as serving vessels for this type of wine.

Port decanters come in various shapes and sizes. A port decanter is usually made of inert material (i.e. glass) with a stopper on top. The vessel can hold at least one standard bottle of port wine.

For the decanting process, the contents from an original port wine vessel is poured into the port decanter in order to separate a small volume of liquid from a larger volume of clear liquid. This small volume contains the sediment. Consequently, the sediment is left in the original vessel, and the clear liquid is then transferred to the port decanter.

Port decanters have been utilized for serving port wines that are full of sediments due to their placement in their original bottles. Such sediments can be produced due to the “old age” of the wine, or those wines which have not been filtered or clarified during the winemaking process. It is a fact that the need for wine decanting process has been minimized significantly these days, mainly because a lot of wines do not produce a lot of sediments unlike the older versions.

Another reason for using a port decanter is to aerate the wine, or in other words, allow it to breathe. The decanter mimics the effects of swirling the wine glass to trigger the oxidation processes which releases more aromatic compounds in the process. Furthermore, using a decanter benefits the wine by smoothing some of its harsher aspects such as the tannins or mercaptans.