Thursday, March 18, 2010

Open Season

Unless you are under 21 years old, have never worked in food services, don't drink, AND have no family members or friends who drink, you have no excuse for not knowing how to properly open a bottle of wine. Yet, all the time, I watch otherwise-sophisticated people struggle and flail around with a bottle, straining like they are attempting to pull Excalibur from the stone, ultimately spilling on themselves or leaving little pieces of cork floating in the wine in the process.  If this sounds like you, and you wonder what others think of you during this process, let me answer that for you: We are silently judging you, and thinking that next time we will bring beer, instead.  Let's get your technique straightened out, shall we? Once you master these simple strategies, you'll find opening a bottle of wine can be almost as pleasurable as drinking one.

1. Get a decent corkscrew. There are thousands on the market, but I favor the manual kind waiters use (see pic)- they are easy to use and work well, but don't completely remove you from the process. Ours is this one (a little pricey- it was a wedding gift). Don't totally cheap out- you get what you pay for with corkscrews, as with everything else in life, but you can get great ones at any cooking store in the $30-40 range.

2. Use the blade on the side of the wine key to cut the foil from the top.  Usually there is a rim on the neck of the bottle- just place the blade right above that, and twist your hand and the bottle, using your thumb for pressure. Pull the little foil cap off.

3. Insert the screw into the cork by twisting it in, while very gently pushing down (don't push too hard or you'll push the cork into the bottle). The key here is to try to make sure you center the screw above the cork before inserting it, and that you screw straight down, not at a wonky angle.

4. When the screw is completely inserted into the cork, tilt the wine key up and place the metal lever on the lip of the bottle. If this is difficult, try unscrewing the corkscrew one turn.

5. While holding the lever and bottle steady, simply lift the handle upwards, which will leverage the cork right out of the bottle. This shouldn't require much effort at all, and the cork will usually come out with a satisfying "pop."

6. Voila!


Unknown said...

"Excaliber from the stone": that's hilarious and so accurate (umm...judging from my personal experience) But you have to admit that a straight corkscrew with no lever is justly a source of high drama.

Anonymous said...

When we have an extra special wedding gift to give it is always a Laguiole with a bottle of great wine to drink on the couple's first anniversary. Nice to see someone else gives Laguiole Cork Screws also.

Lily said...

Robert- I admit it. I hate those things. I always feel like I'm going to dislocate a shoulder when I get stuck using one.

Anonymous- that is such a sweet idea! Wish I had thought of it myself. I'll probably end up claiming it as my own, eventually, especially since you didn't put your name on it. Finders keepers.