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Decanter labels come in many varieties, from those that are simple and unadorned to those that are exquisitely handcrafted. They can range from vintage antiques, sought by collectors, all the way to those that are reproductions of 18th century designs. Decanter labels can be even personalized with a family name, crest or unique symbol. As different as these labels are one from another, all usually consist of a tag that hangs around the neck of the decanter by a chain.
Some types of decanter labels are crafted from sterling silver or silver-gilt, which is sterling silver gilded with gold. These types of labels, which are both elegant and often quite fancy, are not simply hung around the neck of a bottle to be stored in the back of a liquor cabinet. Instead, they are meant to be displayed on a mantle or on a bar.
Another distinctive type of label is made of enamel. Originally, these labels were popular in the 1750s and hand engraved by Simon Francois Ravenet. Only a rare few of the originals still exist and they are worth a great deal of money. Today, copies of these labels can be found, and even they are still considered works of art. While depicting a scene of some sort relating to wine, these enamel labels always include a one word description of the type of wine they should be affixed to; for example, claret or madeira are written in simple block letters.
Commonly referred to as wine labels, decanter labels are not only used for decorative purposes but also to differentiate one wine from another when presented at a dinner table or at an event. Often, fine engraving is done on a label. This can include, but is not limited to, the name of the type spirit, fortified wine, or wine, or the variety of grape. These types of decanter labels are popular with connoisseurs, as they uniquely differentiate what is in a decanter.
Nearly all decanter labels come with a chain and a hook so that they can accommodate any size of decanter or claret jug. What differentiates one decanter label chain from another is the quality of the metal. Some chains are made from silver while others are made of high quality gold. As with all decanter labels, their type and quality are a personal choice, just as is the beverage in the decanter on which they are hung.
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