11 April, 2011  |   2 Comments

How to open a bottle of wine

The roughest part of learning to open a bottle of wine is that so often this act is completed in front of a group. I avoided it for years, handing the bottle off to a more confident guest because there were all those expectant faces looking at me.

(Now that I think of it, maybe my parallel parking fear is the same thing. Every time I have to parallel park, it’s in front of people.)

Back to wine.

Take a very close look at the top of the bottle.
Does it look like it has a cork in it?
Or does it have the little foil grooves reminiscent of a screw top?

When I worked next to the customer service folks at a large winery corporation, one of the most frequent “complaints” was of people who had tried to open a screwtop with a corkscrew. “I tried pulling the cork out but there was no cork!” they’d call and complain. And it was the most skilled of customer service reps who told them in a non-insulting way that it was a screw top, silly.

If it’s a screw top, well, unscrew.

If it’s not, check to see if it has foil or plastic covering the top of the bottle. You’ll want to take that off.

Since we’re using a waiters corkscrew here, you can do one of two things:
1. Remove this by poking the foil with the point of your corkscrew. (That foil part is called the “capsule.”)
2. Find the little blade on a hinge in the corkscrew. Pick it open with your fingernail and cut around the capsule for a cleaner cut.

Then pull the whole dang capsule off.

Find a flat hard surface at chest level or lower.
Stand the bottle on that surface.

Open the spiral part of the corkscrew so it’s at a 90° angle from the body of the corkscrew.
Insert the metal spiral (called the worm!) into the cork in the center of the cork.

Keep twisting the corkscrew until the worm is completely all the way into the cork.

Open the silver “lever.”
Set the end of the lever on the lip of the wine bottle.
Using the angle of the lever for leverage, pull the corkscrew straight up.

Stop pulling. Once you notice the corkscrew beginning to bend stop lifting. Some of the cork will still be in the bottle.

Remove the remaining cork manually. Wrap your hand around the cork and wiggle it out.

Twist the cork off the corkscrew.

If you have it, wipe the rim of the bottle with a towel.
(You never know.)

I strongly encourage practicing all new skills in private.

Actually, who cares?
Tell your guests you’re still getting better at opening a bottle of wine and they might even help you out.
Go you! Open that bottle!


2 thoughts on “How to open a bottle of wine

  1. 1
    Erica Lucci says:

    Such gorgeous drawings!

  2. 2

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