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A guide to decanter glass

The earliest use of wine decanters can be traced back to ancient Rome where the Romans began the process of creating glass bottles and decanters for storage. Wine decanters began to be made again in the 1700s. The shape and the style of glass changed throughout the centuries. It is possible to identity the glass decanter by its style and shape.

Glass patterns

At first, the glass decanters were plain, but as the knowledge and technology increased, the glass began to be decorated by glass cuts as well as by glass engravings. The decorations were modest at first, but as the centuries progressed, they became the focal point, covering the entire of the glass. The cutting and engraving were first done by hand. Then, the Industrial Revolution ushered in the methods of glass cutting, glass engraving and glass pressing by machine.

Shapes

The shape of the glass decanter in the beginning was squat. Katie Jacobs of Christie's referred to the style as the ‘shaft and globe’ which traced its origins to short-necked wine bottles that were being manufactured in the late 1600s. These shapes had the following names: - Cruciform: When the bottle's shoulders were vaguely cross-like when viewed from above - Shouldered with high, rounded shoulders - Bell-shaped where the shoulders sloped downward - Tapered where the shoulders nearly disappeared - Club or ovid where the decanter resembled a bowling pin In the 1800s, the shape of the decanter began to grow more cylindrical, following the shape of the wine bottle as it developed as well. The decanters began to grow more ornamental with rings about the neck and around the bottle itself. The 1800s also marked other shapes as well, such as a more elaborate bell shape which resembled a hand-held bell, as well as the ship's decanter which had a long neck and squat and low body, meant to keep the decanter upright no matter how bed the swell. Near the end of the 1800s, the decanter was closer than ever to the shape of the wine bottle. However, in the Arts and Crafts era, the decanter had the body of a ship's decanter, except that it was elevated from the table on a base and had a long curling handle. The stoppers developed with the decanters, and had shapes with names like spire, lozenge, faceted lozenge, bull's eye or target, flat or rounded, mushroom and (more intricately) faceted,

Buying today

Antique glass decanter sets are available for sale today in antique stores and online. More modern decanters are available as well. For many, decanting wine is a must as it separates sediment from the wine while introducing oxygen which helps to improve the wine's flavour.

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