Serving wine can be intimidating: A novice wine opener can easily break the cork, especially if he uses the wrong wine accessories. With a little practice and the right type of corkscrew, however, anyone can become an accomplished wine opener. Here are a few tips on how to open wine.
Opening Wine with Wine Accessories
If you”ve never tried opening a bottle of wine, you might want to take a trip to your local wine or kitchen store. There, you”ll find a number of wine accessories and corkscrew designs. Often, the stores will let you try out the wine bottle openers before you buy them. Ask for a demonstration, and then see which one works best for you.
Opening Wine with a Waiter”s Corkscrew
Though there are many expensive wine openers on the market, most experts agree that the best corkscrew for opening wine is the folding corkscrew called the “waiter”s pull.” If you”ve ever ordered a bottle of wine at a restaurant, you”ve probably seen this type of wine bottle opener.
Follow these simple steps to open a bottle of wine using a folding corkscrew:
- Open the blade of the corkscrew and use it to cut the foil or plastic covering the wine cork. Most wine bottles have an indentation at the top of the bottle to guide the blade. Be careful: A corkscrew blade can inflict a nasty cut.
- Close the corkscrew blade and wipe the top of the cork with a moistened napkin. This will remove any dirt that may have accumulated on the cork.
- Open the corkscrew spiral.
- Hold the wine bottle by the neck with one hand and the corkscrew in the other.
- Twist the corkscrew into the cork until the spiral is almost through the cork. Beginner wine openers often make the mistake of not screwing the spiral in far enough, as they are afraid of punching through the cork. If the corkscrew spiral isn”t screwed in enough, however, the cork may get torn.
- Using slow, firm pressure, pull up on the cork until it is two-thirds out of the wine bottle. Next, slowly twist the cork as you pull upward.
Opening Wine: Dealing with Broken Corks
Beginner wine openers see a broken cork as a disaster. There”s even a long-standing myth that a broken cork will spoil the wine. Certainly, a broken cork makes the wine bottle opener”s job more difficult, but by carefully and patiently working with the corkscrew, openers can often remove a broken cork.
There are also wine accessories specifically designed to remove broken corks from wine bottles. You can use such wine accessories if you like, but, quite frankly, the best solution to a broken cork is to drive it down into the bottle. This won”t affect the taste of the wine, and you can use a wine decanter to remove any pieces of cork.
Storing Wine vs. Immediately Opening
Storing wine and allowing it to age to perfection is a long-standing tradition in wine culture. Wine lovers can spend thousands of dollars on elaborate wine storages, where bottles are kept at specific temperatures. However, most wines don”t need wine storages, as most will be at their best if opened immediately. Storing wines can also backfire: While some wines become better with age, others spoil if aged too long.
Opening Sparkling Wine and Champagne
Opening champagne has long been associated with celebration. Traditional methods of opening champagne are also, unfortunately, associated with broken lamps and occasional injuries. While the popping sound, flying cork and resulting fizzy overflow are beloved images of opening champagne, there”s a safer method of opening champagne.
Follow these steps to safely uncork a bottle of champagne:
- First, chill the bottle. Placing the bottle in ice water for 30 minutes or in the fridge for 45 minutes should do the trick.
- Dry off the bottle and remove the foil that covers the cork. You will notice that a wire muzzle covers the cork. Remove this by twisting the little wire handle that extends from the muzzle”s base. As soon as the muzzle is removed, place your hand over the cork.
- Hold the champagne bottle at a 45-degree angle, gripping the base of the bottle firmly with one hand. With the other hand, tightly grasp the cork. Twist the bottle and the cork in opposite directions until the cork is released.
Opening Wine with Wine Corks
In a restaurant, a waiter will often present the wine drinker with the cork after he has opened the requested bottle of wine. Often, people don”t know what to do with the cork. Next time you”re handed a cork, here”s what you should do:
- Smell the Cork: Does the cork smell of wine and nothing else? A dry cork or a cork that smells like something other than wine may indicate that the wine has been stored incorrectly.
- Look at the Cork: The cork often contains markings confirming the origin of the wine, which is often of interest to wine lovers. You may notice some crystal deposits on the cork. These have no affect on the wine”s taste.
After you have examined the cork, the waiter will pour a small glass of wine for you to taste. If you noticed anything wrong with the cork when you examined it, you might find that the wine tastes off. If this is the case, ask the waiter for a new bottle.
Asking for Wine Suggestions
If you”re unsure of which wine is best suited to an occasion or meal, don”t be afraid to ask. Sommeliers and wine store staff have a broad understanding of wines. They”ll be more than happy to offer you advice and may even let you sample different varieties.
When asking for a wine suggestion, be specific. Tell the person helping you if you like strong wines, fruity wines, spicy wines, etc. This will help them narrow your choices.