Opening a bottle

The corkscrew is an important tool for opening a bottle. Its main purpose is to remove the cork that covers the wine. There are numerous types of corkscrews, but the best one is not the most beautiful; instead, it is the one that removes the cork vertically and has a long, sharp screw. When the cork is removed vertically there are less chances of breaking. If the cork breaks, its little fragments will fall into the wine and create an unpleasant situation, though not harmful to the wine.

The technique to open the bottle depends on the type of wine. Still wines are sealed with foil at the top of the bottle. The first step is to cut the foil with a knife (or with the built-in knife corkscrews usually have). It should be cut below the neck of the bottle and you can either remove the entire foil or just the part above the neck. If the wine is going to be decanted, one usually removes the entire foil to have a better look at the wine and bottle. If, on the other hand, the bottle is going directly to the table, one usually removes just the upper part of the foil. The following step is to clean the upper part of the bottle with a clean and dry cloth to eliminate any dirt. Insert the corkscrew downright, carefully, without totally perforating the cork, in order to avoid spilling cork pieces into the wine. After that, remove the cork pulling it slowly and in a single movement.

Sparkling wines usually don’t need to be opened with a corkscrew. As they have gas, they need special handling when removing the cork, since it may be projected and spill the liquid. In sparkling wines, the cork is protected with cage and foil, which must be removed when opening the bottle. It is convenient to always have one hand holding the cork. Tilt the bottle and hold it with one hand; with the other hand, gently turn the cork. Gas pressure should slowly and gently push the cork outside the neck of the bottle. Experienced users may open the bottle with a sabre or sharp knife: hold the bottle at a 45º angle and hit it slightly below the cork.

If one wishes to open a very old bottle, the cork may break or disintegrate. If it breaks, you should insert the corkscrew once again, push it against the inside wall of the neck of the bottle and slowly pull the cork. If this doesn’t work, the other option is to push the cork making it fall into the wine: it is unpleasant, but you can then filter the wine. To avoid breaking or disintegrating the cork, you may use a special set of tongs, with arms that adjust to the wine’s neck. You should heat the tongs in a fireplace or stove until they are red hot and then close them around the neck of the bottle (above the wine and below the cork) for a minute. Then, remove the tongs and pass a wet cloth in the same spot: the sudden change in temperature makes the glass crack and break. Hold the top of the neck of the bottle and remove it as if it were a cap.