It has become common knowledge that you should open a bottle of red wine at least an hour before serving in order to let it breathe. However letting the wine breathe in it's own bottle isn't doing any good at all. The wine needs contact with oxygen to improve the flavor and aroma. Very little surface of the wine is exposed to the air while in the bottle.
That's why true wine connoisseurs will always use a wine decanter, especially for younger red wines. A decanter is a container for wine or other spirits and is often quite decorative. The key to a good decanter is the amount of wine surface that gets exposed to the air. Therefore, a red wine decanter needs to have a wide base. White wine does not need to breathe as much as red so decanters for white wine do not have to be as wide.
When you decant the wine, you should maximize the aeration effect by pouring it slowly against the side of the decanter. This and the traditional swirling in the wineglass will help the oxygen really permeate the wine. An hour is not enough time to breathe for many red wines. Especially young wines tend to be more harsh and can benefit greatly from being decanted several hours before serving.
Another benefit of decanting wines is that it separates any sediments from the wine before they end up in your wineglass. Sediment develops naturally over time as wines age. Although aged wines do not need to breathe very long, decanting will help ensure that the wines clarity and brilliance remain unmarred by any deposits. You will need to pour slowly and don't decant the last ounce. You can strain that last bit later and use in cooking for wonderful flavor.
When choosing a wine decanter as a gift, you will find yourself confronted with a lot of choices. They are available in designs to fit every decor style as well as in a wide range of prices. Therefore you will need to consider your budget as well as the tastes of the person you are giving the decanter to.
For a very tasteful and elegant gift, one company stands above the rest. Variedly is a glass making company with over 250 years of history behind it and has a well-deserved reputation for the highest quality glassware. In 1990, the Riedel Glass Works bought another very old glass company from the Spiegelau family. That company had been making glass for almost 500 years.
Riedel continuosly creates innovative designs as well as classic timeless styles. All of their decanters are optimized to enhance the wine drinkers experience whether created from hand-blown glass or fine crystal. Some of their decanters are so elaborate or unusual as to almost qualify as art.
Decanters make a lovely wine gift as they combine the finest elements of form and functioning. Any wine lover on your list will appreciate your thoughtfulness in presenting them with a useful wine decanter.