How To: Open a bottle of wine

This is a true story.

In 2006 I was set up on a date with a friend of a friend.  The date was casual – we were supposed to watch the US play someone else during the 2006 World Cup (soccer).  I went to his house and we ordered in Thai.  Sort of a funny premise for a first date but hey, it was the WORLD CUP.

Anyway, drinks time came quickly and he pulled out a bottle of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. Good move.  Excellent choice for Thai food, a nice solid (if slightly overpriced) wine.  So far so good.  But then he had to open it.  He screwed the wine key into the wine bottle and…and…and…then he put the bottle in between his legs and wrenched the key and cork out.  WHAAAAT?

There was no second date.

So don’ t let this happen to you.  Follow this very, very simple guide to understanding how to open wine and never let me see you with a wine bottle there again.

Corkscrew JBride

Before you start:  Get a “double hinged” wine key also known as a waiters corkscrew.   These do not have to be expensive and do not have to be fancy but they are also probably not sold at your local grocery store.  They run about $10 each but they last forever.  The one above was given to me at a wine tasting in 2003.

1.  Cut the foil cap.  To do this, open the knife of the wine key, press it against the foil (or plastic) covering the opening of the wine bottle, parallel to the top of the wine bottle, and with appropriate pressure cut around the entire bottle.  When you are done just the very top of the foil should have been removed.  See below.

2.  Insert screw to the point where the notched middle lever of the opener is perfectly lined up with the lip of the bottle (see illustrations #2 & #3).

3.  Gently pull the arm of the wine key up toward your face while holding the metal lever in place.  The cork will begin to dislodge. Pull until all leverage is out of the arm and you can’t pull anymore without engaging your shoulder or sticking the wine bottle between your legs.


4.  This is important:  Now, press the arm down and simultaneously set the notched bottom lever to rest on the lip of the wine bottle.  See illustration #5,

5. Again using the  leverage of the arm, slowly and consistently pull the arm up toward your face which will complete the task of dislodging the cork from the bottle.  

6.  Remove the cork.  Examine it.  Don’t smell it (it will just smell like cork).  Place it near where the bottle of wine is going to rest.  Turn off your computer.  Drink your wine.

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