Is it safe to use a lead crystal decanter?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

We have some beautiful old Waterford lead crystal decanters which we've rarely used. My wife is afraid to use them for decanting wine because of her perceived risk of lead poisoning. Is this perceived risk justified, or can we decant away?

—Mark Mershon, Miami, Fla.

Dear Mark,

You can decant away, but only if you promise me that you don't use those decanters for long-term wine storage. It takes a long time—months or years—but eventually the acids in the wine will leach some lead from the glass. You'd have to drink a whole bunch of this lead-infected wine to have any dangerous effects. But it's safe to use these decanters for a few hours at a time.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

Why do some wine reviewers disagree on drink windows?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains one philosophy for determining when a wine will …

Aug 12, 2020

What are Greece’s Muscat of Patras wines? Are they made with sun-dried grapes?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny introduces us to two Greek fortified wines: Muscat of …

Aug 10, 2020

Should the capsule on top of a wine bottle spin or not?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the folklore about foil capsules, or sleeves, on …

Aug 7, 2020

I tried to clean a red wine stain and it turned blue. Why?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why wine stains can turn blue, and how best to …

Aug 5, 2020

How does Wine Spectator review canned wines in blind tastings?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the procedure for blind-tasting wines from …

Aug 3, 2020

When will wine from Virginia get the recognition it deserves?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why Virginia's wines aren't more well-known on …

Jul 31, 2020