Although we may not like to admit it, college students are notorious for drinking cheap wine. During my first few years, I only bought $7 Barefoot Pinot Grigio, suffering the horrible hangover it always brought the next day. A senior now, I like to think that my taste has improved a little, and I always enjoy the occasional (aka weekly) wine nights with my roomies. 

As the daughter of a dedicated wine collector, I've been exposed to numerous wine tastings, etiquette, and odd looking objects called wine decanters that resulted in my initial confusion and eventual love for wine. At first, I thought wine decanters were just fancier ways to serve wine. However, I soon learned they can make or break a good wine.

Decanting is the process of pouring the contents from one vessel (typically a wine bottle) into another vessel (your wine decanter). Wine decanters come in interesting shapes and sizes, and make perfect gifts for true wine lovers. Most importantly, they bring wine to its fullest potential, allowing you to savor in all its delicious flavors. 

cake, beer, coffee, tea
Katherine Thomas

Not every wine requires decanting — aged Bordeaux or older vintage port wines are the typically the best candidates. When you decant a bottle of wine, a few things happen. First, careful decanting allows wine to separate from its sediment, which if left mixed with the wine usually results in a very noticeable bitter, astringent flavor.

Second, decanting helps aerate the wine. This is also called allowing the wine to "breathe." This means that while the wine is slowly poured from the bottle to the wine decanter, it takes in oxygen, which ultimately helps open up the aromas and flavors. This helps with younger wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Most people don't think about decanting white wine — I know my family doesn't. However, there are certain white wines that can truly benefit from decanting, like higher-end whites. Interestingly, you can also decant champagne and rosé. While my family tends to decant good wine up to three hours before serving, others many only decant for 15-20 minutes.

Katherine Thomas

Wine decanters come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are not as expensive as everyone believes. The ideal shape for starters is a wide base, as it allows plenty of room to swirl the wine around. My favorite wine decanter that we own is called the "Black Mamba" because it's funky shape looks like a snake (see below). This wine decanter is definitely more complicated to use (and clean), but it really gets the job done.

chocolate, cake
Katherine Thomas

If you're in college drinking $7 bottles of wine, you don't necessarily need to invest in a wine decanter. Instead, try opening up your bottle of wine an hour before you plan to drink it and pour yourself a glass. Just allowing it to sit there for an hour can help improve your overall experience. 

However, for those of you (like me) who enjoy a fancy bottle of wine every once in a while, or want to have a wine tasting party with friends, investing in a wine decanter is the perfect choice for you.