How To Clean A Wine Decanter For A Fresh Glass

If you're a wine connoisseur, you know the difference between pouring from a decanter and a bottle. Wine stored in a decanter comes in contact with air, which, for better or worse, changes its flavor. Because wine is acidic, failing to clean your decanter immediately can cause stains. It can also cause flavors to mix, making for an off-putting experience.

There are many viable ways to clean a decanter. Shall We Wine founder Regine T. Rousseau recommends filling the vessel with salt and crushed ice and shaking it up. "Don't get too aggressive, but put some hip into it," she told Wine Enthusiast. However, Majordomo Meat and Fish's beverage manager, Nate Rogevich, has a different method. "I personally like to use decanting beads, which are little metal balls that you put in the decanter with very hot water and swirl," he said, adding that the beads are great for tough-to-reach spots.

Others use tools such as decanter brushes, which are good for wide-rimmed pitchers. Afterward, you can hang your decanter on a drying stand, allowing excess water to flow into a linen cloth. Cloths can also be used for cleaning. Thea Angella Merl, lead wine assistant at Rose's Luxury, wraps a cheesecloth around a "bendy spatula" and reaches inside the container (via Wine Enthusiast). 

What to avoid when cleaning your decanter

Though it's generally the go-to for most glassware, dish detergent in a wine decanter is a no-go. "I was always trained to never use soap in a decanter," Thea Angella Merl told Wine Enthusiast. Using regular dish detergent can cause unsightly stains and a soapy aftertaste. Instead, you can opt for a glass-specific cleaner. You should also never rinse with boiling water. When extremely hot water is used in a glass container, it often breaks due to thermal expansion. As a result, it's better to use warm water for rinsing. If you choose to use tools, you should avoid sponges that could scratch the glass surface.

If stains do occur, you may be able to remove them using rice, water, and white vinegar. "In terms of rice, I do find that it removes slight stains," says Chef & Somm sommelier Rebecca Meir (via Wine Enthusiast). "However, it falls short when removing substantial ones." Meir also states that ice or stainless steel beads work well for more intense stains.

Decanting wine is an amazing way to enhance your sipping experience, especially if it's done right. By making sure your decanter is properly clean, you're well on your way to a successful session.