- verb to pour wine from a bottle into another container, so as to remove the sediment, worth doing only with wine that is several years old
- verb to put a food such as jam or pickle from large jars into small serving dishes for each table
- to pour wine carefully from a bottle into another container, separating it from any sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Decanting is particularly desirable for old wine and vintage port. Traditionally a candle or other light is placed under the neck of the bottle so that the person pouring can see when the sediment reaches the neck and can stop pouring. Wines without sediment can also be decanted to allow them to ‘breathe’.
Origin & History of “decant”
The word decant depends on a metaphorical connection perceived in the ancient world between the ‘corner of someone’s eye’ (Greek kānthos) and the ‘lip of a jug’. On the basis of this, Latin acquired the word canthus ‘lip of a jug’. From this was formed in medieval Latin the verb dēcanthāre ‘pour out’, a word originally used by alchemists to denote the careful pouring off of a liquid from its sediment. English probably acquired the verb direct from Latin.