Opening wine bottle correctly: A guide for wine beginners

Opening wine bottle correctly: A guide for wine beginners

Properly opening a bottle of wine is an art in itself. You’ve seen this art so many times in movies, in upscale restaurants, and with your friends who consider themselves wine experts. But what’s the big deal, you ask? Just pull the cork out of the bottle, right? But it’s about so much more than that. Rather, it’s a graceful dance, a pas de deux between you and the wine bottle, demonstrating your skill and finesse. And we’re here to help you perfect your awesome jeté.

If you’d like to join me on this exciting adventure into the world of wine opening, please pour yourself a glass of water (we’ll get to the wine later). Don’t worry, after reading this post you will know enough about the subject to impress even the most demanding wine lovers.

The most important tools: corkscrew galore!

First, let’s talk about the tools you need to successfully open a bottle of wine. And

Corkscrew typeDescription
Waiter knife / corkscrew
(Sommelier knife)
The classic, compact and easy to use, is the first choice for many wine lovers. With fold-out corkscrew, a lever and a small knife to cut the foil.
Wing corkscrewHas two arms (wings) on both sides of the thread. When the spindle is inserted, the wings lift and are then pressed down to pull out the cork.
Lever corkscrew / Screw PullAlso known as a ” Rabbit” corkscrew, this type is placed on the neck of the bottle and uses a lever system to screw the spindle in and pull the cork out in one smooth motion.
Twist corkscrewThis corkscrew has a T-shaped handle that you turn to screw in the cork spindle and pull out the cork.
Cork claspThis two-pronged device slides over the cork on both sides, which you then pull out with a slight twist, making it ideal for brittle or older corks.
Electric core extractorA battery-powered helper that automatically turns in the spindle and removes the cork at the touch of a button. Perfect for those who want effortless wine opening. For this little elegant
Pneumatic corkscrewA needle is used to puncture the cork and pump air into the bottle, whereupon the cork is slowly pushed out of the bottle. Good to quickly open many bottles, but not suitable for older wines with delicate corks.
Accordion corkscrewAlso known as “Butler’s Friend.” It consists of a handle that folds into an “accordion” style and a spiral that twists into the cork. The user then pulls the handle, which pulls the cork out of the bottle.

“Opening a bottle of wine is a sensual ceremony. The ritual reveals the true beauty of wine. We honor the long journey of wine from the vine to the glass. We make precise cuts and gently lift the cork from the neck of the bottle. This act of mindfulness merges past, present and pleasure. The result is a perfect symphony of the senses.”

Gregory Chen, Sommelier

Popular corkscrews

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The 6-step ballet of wine opening

With your tool in hand, we now begin the dance. Here are the steps you need to know by heart to open a bottle of wine properly:

  1. Cut the foil: The foil is like the curtain on a big show stage. You must lift it gracefully to reveal the star of the show: the cork. Cut the foil with your foil cutter or knife about 1-2 mm below the lip of the bottle. This will give you a clean cut and prevent foil debris from falling into your glass.
  2. Examine the cork: Take a moment to study your dance partner. Is the cork moist? Dry? Crumbly? If it appears dry or brittle, you should use a cork clasp to minimize the risk of breakage.
  3. Turn in the corkscrew: The great pas de deux has begun. Position the tip of your corkscrew in the center of the cork and turn it clockwise as if you were waltzing around the ballroom. When using a waiter’s knife, you should insert the spiral at a slight angle (about 10°) and allow it to penetrate about 3/4 of the way into the cork. This ensures that the screw is securely seated in the cork but does not pierce it, allowing pieces of cork to fall into the wine.
  4. Remove the cork: This is the highlight of your performance! With a waiter’s corkscrew, there are often two lever points (“notches”) on the lever. In this case, start with the first (upper) lever point and then switch to the second (lower) lever point to pull the cork out of the bottle effortlessly.
  5. Serve the wine: Once the cork is removed, the finale is reached! Clean the bottle opening and pour the wine into the glasses with the precision of an experienced sommelier. Hold the bottle at a 45° angle when pouring to reduce the risk of spillage. Pour slowly and evenly so that nothing is missed or the wine is aerated unnecessarily. With a little twist after you finish pouring, you prevent the bottle from dripping. Take a moment to enjoy the applause and sweet taste of success.
  6. Practice makes perfect: remember that even the greatest ballet dancers started out as amateurs. Opening a bottle of wine properly takes a bit of practice, so don’t be discouraged if it takes you a few tries until you get the hang of it. Just keep practicing and you’ll be a pro in no time!

And that’s it! Now you have the necessary knowledge and ability to open a bottle of wine properly. Now you can impress your friends, family and even Someliers with your new skills. Remember, practice makes perfect, and the more you dance this wonderful dance, the more elegant and effortless it will become.

Some extra tips for a flawless performance

While you’re well on your way to becoming a virtuoso wine opener, here are a few additional tips to help you perfect your craft:

  • The right serving temperature: Always make sure that your wine is at the right serving temperature so that it can develop its full potential. As a general rule, white wines should be served chilled (about 7°C to 12°C) and red wines at room temperature (about 16°C to 20°C). Better pour your wines a little cooler, as it warms up quickly in the glass.
  • Store your bottles correctly: To prevent the corks from drying out, you should store your bottles horizontally. This will prevent the cork from drying out and crumbling when you open it. A wine rack, in which the bottles are stored horizontally, is the perfect solution. If you prefer to store your bottles upright, you should ensure high humidity so that the cork remains supple.
  • Know your audience: at a party, it’s important to cater to the preferences of your guests. Do they prefer to drink red or white wines, or maybe a little of both? Be prepared to offer different types of wine – to keep everyone happy.
  • Wine knowledge: Opening a bottle of wine with skill and finesse is impressive, but nothing beats a sound knowledge of the world of wine. If you take the time to learn about the different varietals, regions and appropriate food pairings, every wine tasting will be a real experience.

With these additional tips in your repertoire, you’ll become a true wine connoisseur. Don’t forget to savor the experience and enjoy the journey, because the world of wine is vast, diverse and extremely enjoyable. So pop the corks!

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