The semantics might seem confusing and their names are often used interchangeably but we’re here to set the record straight – are two distinct items and, yes, they’re both considered essential to the connoisseur. The two are linked, of course, with the decanter (as we now know it) having been developed from its forerunner, the carafe, in the late 17th century. But what do they actually do other than make us feel so much more refined when we use them?
First, let’s start with what they do differently. Perhaps even moreso than carafes, decanters historically had quite a specialised function. And here’s the technical part. “The original purpose of a decanter,” states London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, “was to receive wine poured from a bottle or cask in order to leave the dregs behind.” Although nowadays most modern wines have eliminated that problem, it’s still nice to know that we’re helping the decanter relive its original life purpose.