A re-post from December 24, 2008According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the Italians changed the Arabic word gharrafa, (a vessel used to hold coffee), to caraffa. But the Italians not only used it to hold coffee, they also used it to hold wine. In the 1700's, the French changed caraffa to carafe. Today, a carafe is a bottle shaped container, with a wide bottom and a flaring lip, used to hold beverages for immediate consumption. Most carafes also have narrower necks than the bottom or lip. There are three types of carafes:
1) Insulated carafes can hold either cold or hot liquids. Constructed like a thermos bottle, they have a glass inner liner, a metal or plastic outer shell, with an air pocket in between and a lid. The lid aids in keeping the liquid at a constant temperature, for an hour or more. But while the thermos bottle has a screw-on lid, the carafe lid will have one of three options: 1) If the carafe has a pouring lip, the lid that rests inside the lip will not have to be lifted. 2) A flip lids allows the user to open half of the lid when pouring the liquid. and 3) A pump lid is a lid that when pushed down, releases the liquid through a spigot attached to the lid.
2) A bedside glass carafe is used to keep water by the bed. This carafe holds one or two glasses of water and has a removable drinking glass that fits upside down on top of the carafe. These are still used today in hotels, bed & breakfasts, and by private individuals.
3) The last type of carafe holds liquids at room temperature, including oil and vinegar, fruit juice and wine as an example. At a restaurant, this allow the customer to pour the amount of liquid they desire. And at a party, allows the hostess to socialize with the guests, while the guests have access to the liquid at their convenience.
Today, carafes are made out of glass and crystal, metal such as copper, chrome, silver and stainless steel, plastic, ceramic and earthenware. They can be clear glass or colored, plain designed, cut-glass in the case of crystal, theme designed, monogrammed, or have your logo etched on the side. Carafes may be purchase to hold anywhere from 8 ounces to a magnum of wine. Available at wine shops, specialty stores, department stores and restaurant supply stores, expect to pay anywhere from $5 for a plastic carafe to $400 for a cut glass crystal carafe with four matching glasses.