Wine decanters come in many shapes and sizes, so how to know which to use? Follow our guide on how to choose the best wine decanter

Don’t let the decanter gather dust. But coming in so many shapes and sizes, knowing which to use can be a tricky business. And there is much to consider besides the decanter itself, including the type and age of the wine being drunk. From large decanters for full-bodied reds to the swan design for all ages, follow our guide on how to choose the best wine decanter.

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Decanters are a confusing item. They seem to come in various shapes and sizes. I have a large, traditional, flat-bottomed one and a smaller one of similar shape. Recently, I’ve been given one that is, I believe, swan or elongated boomerang shape. I imagine many Field readers might own them. What really is the point, besides their looks?
WHS, Sussex

Decanting a bottle of wine increases oxygen exposure to the wine. This greatly improves the taste and tends to soften astringent tannins and release fruit and floral aromas. A large decanter is ideal for full-bodied red wines, such as cabernet sauvignon and petite sirah, whereas a small decanter is preferable for light-bodied red and white wines, such as beaujolais and pinot noir. Decanters of swan design are versatile as they can help separate sediment in older wines whilst allowing younger wines to aerate and mature.