Q: I have acquired a gadget that has been used for decanting wine, and having never seen one before, I wondered if you could tell me what it’s called. It’s a mahogany base, with a brass candleholder and a bottle holder that rises and falls on a corkscrew mechanism. Hoping you can help me find out what it’s called. –Catherine, United Kingdom
A: Sure, that is called a decanting cradle. A bottle of wine or port is supposed to rest in the holder for at least a couple of hours so that the sediment can collect on one side. Then you carefully open the bottle, light the candle, and start to crank the mechanism, so that you’re slowing pouring out the bottle (usually into a decanter, hence the name). You gradually tilt the bottle from a mostly horizontal position until it’s practically vertical and emptied out. While you do so, you use the candle’s light to look into the neck of the bottle. As soon as you see sediment, you stop.
I’ve never actually used one, but after using a flashlight and counting on a steady hand to pour wine out slowly while decanting, I can appreciate why a decanting cradle was invented!
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