Decanters and Carafes – What is the Difference?

There is often discussion on the internet about what is a decanter versus a carafe.  Does shape (round or square) or a top stopper have something to do with the definition?  To get the definitive answer, I went to my father-in-laws ultimate source of wisdom – Webster’s Second Edition Unabridged Dictionary!

Decanter – “a vessel used to decant liquors, or for receiving decanted liquors.  A kind of glass bottle for serving wine or other liquors.  A decanter, can also be the person that does the decanting.”

Carafe White Wine GlassCarafe – “a glass bottle for the table.”

So a decanter can also be a carafe.  And, a simple carafe can also be used as a decanter.  There is nothing said about shape, size, or if it has a stopper or not.  The definition is all about the purpose.

And, if you look or shop around you will find that decanters come in many shapes and sizes.  Some are used for wine.  Others are used to serve Whiskey, Cognac, or other liquors.  Some decanters are very inexpensive and others can be hundreds and even over a thousand dollars if made by a designer or at a high end crystal house.

Bottom line…it’s what’s inside that counts!


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