Uncorking Wine

How to Remove the Cork from a Bottle of Wine

The bottle should be opened carefully and calmly. First, the capsule that protects the bottleneck must be removed, approximately one centimeter below the top rim of the bottle. After that, especially if the bottle is old, the bottleneck and the top of the cork stopper must be wiped with a clean cloth. The point of the corkscrew is then placed in the center of the cork closure, taking care to insert the spiral of the corkscrew deeply, but not so far that it perforates the bottom of the cork. This operation is not possible with every design of corkscrew, especially some that are not hand operated. If the spiral is not inserted deep enough, the cork is not extracted and the screw can pull through the middle of the cork. If particles of cork do fall into the wine because the spiral of the corkscrew has been inserted too far, there is no serious problem and one should remember these small particles are organically harmless, even if consumed.


One of the main parts of a corkscrew is its spiral. This has to be at least 7 cm in length, to be able to deal with longer corks, and should have a sharp point. In terms of material, the spiral must be a single piece, completely smooth and without sharp edges. The spirals with a PTFE (Teflon™) surface or similar material are recommended as they pierce the cork with ease, without damaging its internal structure.


Depending on the age of the bottle, the cork will be in different stages of evolution. In a new wine, there will be a very robust cork closure, but in more mature wines, the cork closure will have softened. In very old wines, generally with a bottle age of more than 35 years, weaker corks will be found due to their already fragile internal structure. These corks require great care as they often break during extraction.


In the case of sparkling wine, the bottle must be opened with care and without agitation. After the muselet (wire cage) is removed, the cork stopper must be held firmly. Thereafter, the bottle, and not the cork, must be turned, in order to prevent an exaggerated twist of the cork stopper. On removal, the cork will emit that unique “pop,” a reason for joy and enrichment of our senses – something only natural cork can do.