When And How To Fake A Decanter

You fancy. You havin’ a dinner party. A bunch of friends are coming. Some of them are wearing tweed. Wine will be served. Wine that costs over $10. Even twice or three times as much. Yeah, there’s actually a $42 bottle that you’ve been secretly cradling next to you in bed while you dream of this incredible dinner party you’re going to throw. Wait, did Tom Hiddleston just show up on a horse with T. Swift waving a sword behind him? Yes, yes they did.

Night comes. Guests start to arrive in the de facto fashionably late style in which guests arrive to any carefully, painstakingly planned meal. Cheaper wine starts to flow. Let’s all get a bit comfortable before you whip out the expensive stuff — you want your guests to feel confident enough to shout out stuff like “Is that a playful hint of gooseberry?” and “I detect a soupcon of horse sweat!” Except, yeah. What? You don’t have a decanter.

Don’t panic. Panic makes you look weak in front of your guests. Some of whom, we must remind you, are wearing tweed. At least one of them has a Banana Republic store card. Don’t panic. Panic is for people who don’t aspire to Banana Republic store cards. Instead, you find a replacement.

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Replacement decanter? You thought decanters had to be incredibly beautiful — delicate yet cumbersome glass centerpieces for the visual wine porn you intend to display in front of your salivating guests. How can you decant your wine theatrically without a real decanter?

There are two reasonable solutions. Number one, fake it; options are few here, as you’ll see below, but if you’re desperate to aerate that wine in front of guests, this will have to do. Number two: keep it private. Don’t alert the guests to the fact that you’re decanting. In fact, there is an optimal place where “double decanting” steps in. But we’ll get to that in a second. 

First, let’s talk FAKING.

What vessels in the average household could serve as a reasonably attractive “faux decanter”?

The Vase. Easiest solution, considering it’s likely glass, it’s likely attractively shaped, and you can pawn it off as a new design from a designer you just made up in your head. OK, don’t worry about making it up, we’ll give her a name. Yasmina Vinkerbubble. Done.

The Fish Bowl. Don’t laugh. If you laugh, the fact that you are “repurposing” this fish bowl as a decanter (it has a slightly narrower opening and large bowl shape, allowing for efficient but not aggressive oxygenation) will become a joke.

Aromatic Stick Holders. Do you have a big house? Do you want most of your house to smell like Sandalwood? Then you probably have a lot of these, which you can wash out (like, super thoroughly) and turn into mini-decanters, and thus start a new craze. Because why should I drink wine from a decanter not specially meant for me?

OK, now let’s talk HIDING.

Hiding decanting is incredibly easy. You do it before the guests arrive (really, you only need about 30 minutes, no matter the wine, since you guys will likely take your time drinking it). Also, if you’ve never heard of the actually super-simple trick of double decanting, here’s your chance: you basically pour the wine out of the bottle, classic decanting style, then pour the decanted wine back INTO the bottle. Bonus points: you can tell your friends all about something they don’t understand. Which is the goal of a dinner party, right? All of this to say, hidden decanting is extremely simple, and you can use any of the following:

Tupperware. That’s right, y’all. Those sexist Tupperware parties weren’t entirely useless. Not only can you store last night’s dutifully cooked (by your husband) mac n’ cheese, you can pour your wine in, observant of the larger surface area (and thus faster oxygen impact), and let your incredibly fancy wine get the time and attention it needs without a bunch of thirsty lookers-on.

Ye Old Blender. Yeah, this is a longstanding, and potentially dubious, trick. But if you think about it, a blender basically swirls and aerates your wine very quickly. Again, this is something to be done before guests arrive.

Mason Jar. This one could actually go in either category, depending on how down-home and/or aggressively hipster your friends are. The Mason jar certainly doesn’t have as much surface area as, say, the Riedel duck decanter. But on the other hand, you may have several of these on hand. And if you are decanting before the party, you can simply shake the jar intermittently to redistribute the wine that’s already been oxygenated. (Again, we’re talking short periods of time here. You really don’t need to decant anything for hours.)

Wine Glasses. Yeah, we’ll get some flack for this one. But think of it this way. If your red wine is slightly over-chilled, you can pour it out into guests’ wine glasses 10 or so minutes before it’s time to drink (we’re assuming this is a red, something to go with dinner). This idea assumes you have extra wine glasses to “hold” while your guests delightedly guzzle some more immediately quaffable whites or roses. But once dinnertime nears, pour the over-chilled wine into glasses, let it sit for a dime, and serve the individually oxygenated glasses to your thrilled guests. Win and win.