Personal Effects: Wine dispenser

BY JERRY SAMPSON

Question: Jerry, I bought this while on the U.S. 127 yard sale a couple of years ago. I kept going back to it because I was so intrigued with this item and finally bought it for $20. I had to ask what it was and the gentleman told me it was a wine chiller and dispenser. It has a tube that goes down into the vase part that you are supposed to put ice in. It has made in Italy on the bottom and has grapevines and grapes etched in the glass on the vase. He also told me that it had been on his mother in-law’s mantel for years until she passed away in her late 80s. I was just wondering the history behind this piece. Thank you.

Answer: OK, when you first sent this, I thought, “Great this will be an easy one. I’ve read some of the history on these before.” Boy, was I wrong. This turned into a real tough challenge.

Now, I’ve got a really nice reference library on wine, spirits and alcohol. Some serious and niche subjects in this category. I found nothing. No illustrations, no references or foot notes — nothing. Usually when that happens, hit the internet. This resulted in only more confusion.

The references that I did find, I discovered that this object is called: 1. a wine aerator 2. a wine aerator / dispenser and 3. a hanging wine dispenser. (To aerate wine is to expose it to the air to bring out its bouquet or aroma.)

For clarity, I’m going to call this a hanging wine dispenser. Every example I found was called “vintage.” I’m going to say that this type of dispenser is going to date from the 1950s to 1980s and there are some high style examples made today.

All the way from Roman times to the Art Deco period, I found absolutely no references to any earlier examples. It was about the same with the country or origin. All the examples I found were either made in Italy (like yours), Germany or Austria.

The materials were all the same, glass and metal. So no surprises there.

In a nutshell, the hanging wine dispenser that you have, is made in Italy, is going to date to the 1960s or there about and is in good condition. I found that you may or may not be missing a top, as well as matching goblets. We’ll work with what you have.

I like your hanging wine dispenser. Right now, wine antiques or collectibles are very hot. I’d wager that in a nice antiques shop that this piece would be priced at about $100. So you did well with your $20 investment. Thanks for a tough question and for sharing it with us.