AskDefine | Define carafe

Dictionary Definition

carafe n : a bottle with a stopper; for serving wine or water [syn: decanter]

User Contributed Dictionary



First attested 1786, from French carafe, from Italian caraffa, probably from Arabic (ghúrfa cup or dipper), from (ghárafa, to ladle).


  • /kəˈɹæf/


  1. A bottle, usually glass and with a flared lip, used for serving water, wine, or other beverages.
  2. A glass pot with a spout for pouring, used for both serving coffee and as a receptacle during the brewing process.




From Italian caraffa, probably from Arabic (ghúrfa cup or dipper), from (ghárafa, to ladle).


carafe (plural: carafes)
  1. carafe.

Extensive Definition

A decanter is a vessel supplied with a stopper that is used to hold the decantation of a liquid (such as wine) which may contain sediment. Decanters are normally used as serving vessels for wine.
Decanters vary in shape and design. They are usually made of an inert material (such as glass) and will hold at least one standard bottle of wine (0.75 liter).
A similar kind of vessel, the carafe, is also used for serving wine but is not supplied with a stopper.


Throughout the history of wine, decanters have played a significant role in the serving of wine. The vessels would be filled with wine from amphoras and brought to the table where they could be more easily handled by a single servant. The Ancient Romans pioneered the use of glass as a material. After the fall of the Roman Empire, glass production was scarce causing the majority of decanters to be made of bronze, silver, gold, or earthenware. The Venetians reintroduced glass decanters during the Renaissance period and pioneered the style of a long slender neck that opens to a wide body, increasing the exposed surface area of the wine, allowing it to react with air. In the 1730s, British glass makers introduced the Stopper to limit exposure to air. Since then, there has been little change to the basic aspects of the decanter.
Another purpose that decanting can serve is to aerate the wine or to allow it "to breathe". In this regard the decanter is meant to mimic the effects of swirling the wine glass to stimulate the movement of molecules in the wine to trigger the release of more aroma compounds. The effectiveness of decanting is a topic of debate with some wine experts, like oenologist Émile Peynaud, claiming that the prolonged exposure to oxygen actually diffuses and dissipates more aroma compounds than it stimulates in contrast to the effects of the smaller scale exposure and immediate release that swirling the wine in a drinker's glass has. However, the process of decanting, over a period a few hours, doesn't have the effect of softening tannins. The softening of tannins occur during the winemaking and oak when tannins go through a process of polymerization that can last days or weeks. Decanting does have the effect of altering the perception of sulfites and other chemical compounds in the wine through oxidation which can give some drinkers the sense of softer tannins in the wine.


carafe in Aragonese: Garrafa
carafe in Danish: Karaffel
carafe in German: Karaffe
carafe in French: Carafe
carafe in Hungarian: Karaf
carafe in Italian: Caraffa (recipiente)
carafe in Dutch: Karaf
carafe in Norwegian: Karaffel
carafe in Polish: Dekanter
carafe in Portuguese: Decanter
carafe in Russian: Графин
carafe in Swedish: Karaff
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