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Opening wine bottles – the “proper” technique

The table is set, the lights are dim, and the guests have arrived.  You confidently hold the perfectly chosen wine and begin screwing down the corkscrew.  As you fumble with the opener, trying to get it to screw down evenly, you start to notice those little flecks of cork as they start to drop inside the bottle.  You struggle to save the cork as you gently pull, but it?s too late.  The cork has broken in two and you?re standing there wondering if anyone will notice if you just push it into the bottle.


Don?t let this happen to you!  This seemingly simple task can sometimes challenge even the most adept wine connoisseur.  There are many different types of corkscrews available on the market today.  The most common, yet infamous one, is the Wing Corkscrew.  This corkscrew has a spiral shaped ?worm? in the center that you twist into the cork and two wings that are used to lift the cork out.  The main problem with this corkscrew is that the worm is too short and thick and usually tears the cork apart rather than pulling it out smoothly.  So, rather than struggling with this type of corkscrew, you might want to try one of these other kinds and save yourself some aggravation.

The Waiter?s Corkscrew is what you?ll most commonly see being used in restaurants.  This corkscrew looks like a pocketknife with a worm, cutter knife, and lever arm.  While holding the neck of the wine bottle firmly, press the corkscrew?s worm into the center of the cork and start twisting it down, keeping the worm as vertical as possible.  Twist the corkscrew until it meets the last curve of the worm.  Place the corkscrew?s lever on the top lip of the bottle, holding the lever and the bottle?s neck with one hand, and pull with the other hand.  The cork should slide out perfectly intact.  If the cork sticks, the worm is probably not in the cork far enough.  If this happens, gently twist the corkscrew farther down and try lifting it out again.

The Screwpull Corkscrew has a simple design that works surprisingly well.  It has a long worm, two sides that look like a clothespin, and a lever on top.  Place the base of the corkscrew on the top of the wine bottle and hold both the corkscrew and the bottle with one hand.  Start turning the lever in a clockwise manner and the cork will simply lift out of the wine bottle with ease.  What could be simpler than that?

Another complicated-looking, but fairly simple to use corkscrew is the Ah-So or Butler?s Friend.  This corkscrew has two thin, uneven prongs with a handle.  Rather than screwing a hole in the middle of the cork, the Ah-So corkscrew slides down in the space between the cork and the wine bottle.  Insert the longer prong into the side of the cork and press down.  Once the shorter prong is inserted, move the handle back and forth until the corkscrew is as far down as it can go.  Then twist the cork out while pulling the corkscrew up, removing the cork in one piece with no holes or flakes.  This corkscrew is most useful with tight-fitting or older corks that are falling apart, but you should never use it with loose corks because it will probably just push the cork inside the wine bottle.

No matter which corkscrew you choose, make sure the first thing you do is remove the foil cap.  Using the pointed tip of the corkscrew worm or cutter blade, cut the foil around the neck just below the bottom lip of the wine bottle and remove the foil.  Next, place the bottle on a flat, sturdy surface at chest level.  After you?ve removed the cork, make sure to wipe off any remaining pieces of foil or cork from the rim of the bottle with a clean towel and enjoy your wine!

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