Fine wines are an almost imperceptible art, a sensation that many manage to bottle, but few effectively uncork. So many of us have that exceptional bottle of wine at home from an unforgettable vacation, a departed significant one, a visit to a winery, that we are so eager to open on a special occasion, on the right moment. The bottle ages for ages and we keep on waiting and waiting. Finally, the moment comes, and we feel so ready for it. But then, in a momentary lapse of reason, or rather of an “I’m not sure how to do it” mode, the magic is lost. Instead of uncorking properly, the cork breaks into pieces and spreads into our valuable wine.
Whether you are a social wine drinker that has a bottle at home now and then or a wine aficionado with a massive cellar collection, this can happen to anyone.
Here’s your deal:
Uncorking with a regular corkscrew may not be the best of ideas because your bottle is old and the cork will probably break easily.
Buy a waiter’s corkscrew that is relatively inexpensive, $4 to $7, and definitely foolproof. Think: what restaurant would allow its waiters to look foolish if they can’t uncork properly a bottle of wine? A waiter’s corkscrew has a tiny flip-out blade on one end that can be used for removing the foil capsule. On the other end, there is a lever that can be used as a bracket that sits on the edge of the bottle to give you leverage when uncorking. Simple; cheap; infallible. Just about every wine store would have one.
Place your bottle on a flat, hard surface at the level of your mid-chest or lower. Think: hard surface keeps the bottle stable, mid-chest level keeps you full control. Lower the arms of the corkscrew and puncture the cork with the flip-out blade until the middle holding the corkscrew in a vertical and straight position so that it goes straight it, in balance. Then, after you grasp the top of the bottle securely and the end of the corkscrew with one hand, with the other hand begin screwing clockwise while putting an even downward pressure to the cork. As soon as the corkscrew is in the cork, the arms will begin to rise. Keep on putting pressure.
When the arms are completely raised, the moment of truth you’ve expecting for has come. As you press the arms down, the cork comes up. Wrap your hands around the foot of the corkscrew and gently pool straight up.
Some more hints
If your special bottle of wine has not been stored at the proper angle, turn it upside down for 30 seconds, then flip it right side up and then start the uncorking ritual. If the angle of the bottle has not been right during all these years that the bottle has been stored, the cork becomes dry and breakable. After you perforate the cork, hold the cork screw inactive and twist the bottle.
Before perforating the cork with the corkscrew, remove the foil covering the cork or it will increase the resistance.
Before the time for the special bottle comes, take your chances with another one. It makes sense to exercise your skills before opening your special bottle and ruining your mood with unfortunate uncorking.
So now, it’s all up to you. Are you up for a triumph or a disaster the next time you uncork? It’s your choice.