Summary List Placement
In my pre-pandemic life, nothing gave me more joy than having friends over for drinks and dinner. This past year my gatherings have gone virtual, but with the help of wine and spirit industry insiders from sommeliers to booze editors, I’ve taken inventory of my at-home bar set up and learned a lot more about how and what to use in the process.
A good wine decanter increases oxygen exposure, which in turn helps bring out the flavors and aromas within your wine for a better taste.
Meanwhile, a good liquor dispenser not only makes it easier to get a precise pour every time, but can also double as an easy way to store liquor bottles when they’re not in use.
From elegant decanters to easy-to-use drink dispensers that can whip up your favorite cocktail in no time, these products are highly rated and expert-approved.
Here are the best decanters and liquor dispensers
- Best wine decanter: Riedel Cabernet Decanter
- Best decanter on a budget: Bormioli Rocco Misura Wine Carafe
- Best aerator and decanter set: Ullo + Decanter
- Best decanter for whiskey, scotch, and bourbon: Dragon Glassware Diamond Whiskey Decanter
- Best rotating liquor dispenser: Final Touch 6 Bottle Rotating Dispenser
- Best liquor dispenser with pods: Bartesian
- Best decanter accessory: Lily’s Home Wine decanter Drying Stand
Best overall wine decanter
Offering serious bang for your buck, the Riedel Cabernet Decanter is beloved by sommeliers for good reason.
What we like: Practical, affordable, easy to clean, great for all wine types.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to wine decanters, but if you’re looking for a great decanter that is loved by the pros, you really can’t go wrong with Riedel’s Cabernet Decanter.
“If you buy one decanter, get this one,” says sommelier Annie Shapero. “It’s medium-sized, classic in design, and will work with much more than Cabernet.”
Riedel is a renowned wineglass maker, too, and has long been an industry leader in quality glassware that’s trusted by wine-industry insiders. Shapero says they are the go-to option for all things decanting. This decanter has a chic look for your hosting table and is lightweight but sturdy. Just be aware you’ll need to hand wash it.
Best wine decanter on a budget
For a great decanter option that doesn’t break the bank, this Italian-made bistro-style carafe will do the trick.
What we love: Cost-effective, authentic and old-school Italian-made design
If you’re looking for an everyday decanter that’s affordable, this bistro-style carafe by Bormioli Rocco is made in Italy and will look great at your next dinner party.
“As a certified Italian sommelier, my love for wine begins and ends in Italy,” Shapero says. “An old school carafe from historic glassware manufacturer, Bormioli is reminiscent of table wine in trattorias, but it will also get the job done on a wine that only needs a light decant. Nostalgia and function in one.”
Beyond being incredibly affordable, this decanter is extremely durable and dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning.
Best aerator and decanter set
The Üllo + Decanter set uses a patented technology to create an optimal pour for each and every glass.
What we love: Simple design, smart technology, removes sulfites and sentiment
If you love wine but not the headaches that can come with it, investing in an aerator and decanter that removes the sulfites is a good option. Made in the US, the Üllo + Decanter set is great for both red and white wine and works to improve the taste of each glass using a patented sulfite capture technology.
The set comes with an adjustable aerator that’s dishwasher-safe, as well as a hand-blown decanter that uses ultra-transparent, lead-free crystal that works to keep all of the flavors and aromas in your glass.
Best decanter for whiskey, scotch, and bourbon
The Dragon Glassware Diamond Whiskey Decanter is dishwasher, refrigerator, and freezer safe, plus comes with extras for added value.
What we love: Stylish and unique design, comes with glasses, highly durable
This diamond-shaped drinkware by Dragon Glassware not only takes its unique shape from the multi-facets of diamonds, but it works to aerate as you go.
“The unique shape of the Dragon Glassware allows your drink to aerate as it is poured and swirled inside the decanter and accompanying glasses, which is important for distributing aromas of bourbon, scotch, and red wine,” Booze Editor Jono Elderton of men’s lifestyle website Next Luxury said.
“It’s versatile enough to use for any liquor or wine product and comes in luxury gift packaging, which makes it a top-quality choice for those looking for a first-class decanter set for themselves or to gift.”
Best rotating liquor dispenser
The Final Touch 6 Bottle Rotating Dispenser and Bar Caddy makes it easier to mix, measure, and pour a well-balanced drink.
What we like: Makes mixing drinks and dispensing shots easier and more accurate, rotates, leak-proof seals
Capable of holding up to six one-liter bottles at a time, the dispenser is made out of professional-grade aluminum, and the push and pour system allows for a more precise pour each and every time.
The simple rotating setup is great for parties, as well as keeping and storing bottles when it’s not in use. Designed to fit most standard bottles using a spring-system at the top, this dispenser will keep the drinks flowing and party going in a fun and fashionable way.
Best liquor dispenser with pods
Bartesian‘s on-demand cocktail machine is an intelligent cocktail maker that uses capsuled flavors for customizable, premium cocktails.
What we love: Easy to use, self-cleaning, customizable cocktails in under a minute, works at the push of a button
This bartender-designed cocktail dispenser by Bartesian offers all of the convenience that comes with a fully stocked bar without the mess or hassle. With more than 30 capsule options to choose from, you can whip up a spicy margarita or mint julep in under 30 seconds with the push of a button.
Containing real juices, natural extracts, and bitters, keep in mind that these capsules don’t include the alcohol needed to make a cocktail, so you’ll still need to provide the spirit of your choice. Not to worry, you’ll get a handy drink manual with recipes and ratios that will provide all of the instructions needed to get you going. Once your cocktail is ready, the machine self-cleans and is ready for the next capsule.
For a more affordable but less customizable option, Drinkworks Home Bar by Keurig is another worthy contender.
Best decanter accessory
Coupling functionality with design, Lily’s Home Wine Decanter Drying Stand does double-duty as a decanter display rack and drying stand, making it a necessity for any wine lover.
What we like: Practical, affordable, useful for long-term decanter care
When it comes to wine accessories, owning a decanter stand might not seem like a priority, but if you’re serious about keeping your decanter clean and dry, Lily’s Drying Stand can’t be beat.
Courtney Bunn, Beverage Director at JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live and The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles, considers this a must-have item for any home or professional bar. “Wine has a seemingly endless list of products to serve and store it, which can quickly fill up your home bar with gadgets and glassware,” she notes. “I’m simplistic in my approach, but I swear by my decanter drying stand to help with water stains and proper drying.”
Made from stainless steel that’s meant to last for years to come, this also comes with a cleaning brush to keep your decanter pristine.
How and when to decant wine
The main purpose of decanting is to add oxygen into your wine, but not every wine necessarily needs to be decanted.
“Imagine your wine being pent up in the tight bottle with virtually no air for a year, five years, fifty years. It’s ready to breath and usually the longer it’s been in the bottle, the more air it needs,” notes Den Haan.
If you uncork your wine and get a funky or stinky smell coming off it, that’s a good sign you need to decant it.
As far as best practices for decanting, Shapero says a slow and steady approach is always best. “The process should be slow and meticulous with a very gentle pour, at the most subtle angle possible,” Shapero advises. “You don’t want the wine to gush out. Allow it to flow down the sides of the decanter.
What to look for in a decanter
“When it comes to choosing a decanter, a lot of it comes down to aesthetics, as they all have a fairly similar shape and function,” Coly Den Haan, sommelier and owner of LA-based Vinovore says. Other features like functionality and material should also be a factor when purchasing a decanter, but don’t get too caught up in the cost and fancy extras.
“Unless you are a true wine connoisseur, with different decanters and dozens of glasses intended for specific wines, you’ll probably find the right decanter between $35 to $60,” says sommelier and founder of wine consulting company DiVino, Annie Shapero.
While a budget option will work just fine and get the job done, Shapero does recommend splurging if you’re looking for something with a bit of wow-factor that you plan to display.
“If you’re looking for something stunning that will make your wine sparkle in the light, choose crystal, which is also more durable,” she says. “Just keep in mind that crystal is porous, so you’ll likely have to hand-wash it to avoid soapy flavors in your wine.”