I have inherited a strange-looking antique silver funnel, which has a strainer built into it and a long spout with a curved end. I am told it is a wine funnel. What is it for?
Yes, it sounds like a wine funnel, once part of every wine connoisseur’s equipment. Before the days of cold stabilisation or filtering, wines that were stored for a while developed a sediment of tartrate crystals in the bottle. It was traditional to decant these before serving, and the funnel you have inherited would have been used for transferring wine from the bottle to the decanter. The strainer, obviously, would remove any large crystals, and the curved spout would ensure that the wine trickled down the side of the decanter, rather than splashing down and causing froth and bubbles, which could have introduced too much oxygen into the wine.
Many high-quality wines are still marketed as “unfiltered”, and you may well still find sediment in your bottle. It’s not a bad idea to put your funnel back into use for the job it was designed to do. Your guests should be madly impressed.