Decanters For Wine, Whisky and Spirits
Going back in time to serve wine at the table firstly you would need to decant from a bottle or barrel as the wine would be full of sediment and pretty undrinkable. It would take a skilled hand to decant it sufficient for the table pouring.
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Wine and Spirits Decanters
As with a lot of wines and spirits the best was kept for the rich and the hierarchy and traditions from them were handed down to the lower classes but a lot knowledge and design came from ships and the captains table hence the wide base for treacherous seas.
The large round bottom of some decanters served two purposes on board ship. One being the decanter was less likely to fall over in a sea swell and the other to help aerate and oxygenise the wine during the process of decanting. Other spirits and wines can be dispensed from a decanter but port, red wine and vintage whites can all benefit from it.