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There was an amusing rant by Alder Yarrow of Vinography a couple of days ago about how much he hates wine decanters, which I have to admit isn't something I'd given a lot of thought to before. (Note: he doesn't hate decanting wine, just wine decanters.) But it brought to mind a recent tasting put on by Riedel that I went to. The purpose was to highlight their multitudinous Pinot Noir-specific glassware options, but I thought that the most compelling part of the whole thing was a new line of entirely impractical (Alder would really hate these), but really quite beautiful wine decanters. Take, for instance, this one, the Swan ($395). With its twenty-six-inch-long slender crystal neck, I'm guessing that it would last about three minutes before being smashed to smithereens in my house. There was also this one, the Paloma ($395), about which I can only say one should definitely practice before using it. I witnessed one of the pourers at the event look quite startled when she tipped it forward too rapidly, and it launched a jet-like stream of red wine directly at some poor woman's blouse. But the decanter looked beautiful even as an inadvertent weapon.
But, you know, beauty comes at a price.
Alder goes on to point out the legitimate difficulty of washing wine decanters (Maximilian Riedel simply said, "pour hot water through it," when I asked him about how on earth one washed the swan—odd how much "washing the swan" sounds like a euphemism for something inappropriate but in fact is not). Alder then shows a picture of his favorite decanter, which is pretty much your classic glass pitcher. Me, I'm particularly fond of my own makeshift (sort of) decanter, which is this nifty pitcher from Simon Pearce, which my brother gave to my wife and I as a wedding present. (Unfortunately, it seems to have shrunk since we acquired it, as it now only holds 24 ounces—but hey, that last ounce in the bottle was full of sediment anyway).
Perhaps some kind of wine aeration vessel smackdown is in order: in the near corner, Alder Yarrow, wielding the stone bat of pragmatism; in the other, Max Riedel, armed with the glittering knives of beauty. Boo-yah!