Tonight we're hosting a small dinner party for German friends who are leaving Paris for a post in Budapest. As part of the ritual of decanting red wine, my husband will use light from a ratte candleholder (pictured). The modern pewter ratte (at right) was purchased last year at a Burgundy vineyard. The other two rattes are 19th-century, also originating from Burgundy vineyards.
As red wines age, they change chemically, resulting in residue or sediment often observed in an older bottle. Removing the liquid from the now solid portion of an older wine is a typical reason for pouring it into a decanter to "breathe." Traditionally candles as above are used as a light source when decanting wine, although a flashlight works just as well. But where's the romance in that?