Victorian ladies frequently entertained friends and family. A decanter of sherry, marsala, madeira, or other fortified wines was always on the sideboard with a set of matching glasses. When the guests (expected or not) arrived, the hostess offered a glass of wine and cookies or cakes while conversation flowed.
As time passed, the wines were replaced with whiskies by the mid-20th century, but the idea was the same… My mother had a half dozen decanters with different liquors. Even today, there are a couple of decanters with wine and spirits in my home on my mother’s sideboard.