How to open a bottle of wine
Welcome to sipp’s Beyond The Bottle, our guide to helping you get more from your wines. We’re starting at ‘Wine 101' – looking at the easiest ways to open different kinds of bottles. Yeah it’s basic stuff, but if you’ve ever struggled with it, you’ll know how important it is…
When it comes to opening wine, you’re pretty much going to come across three types of ‘stoppers’:
Cork – Natural cork comes from the inner bark of cork trees. Soft and nearly impermeable, it’s the perfect way to seal bottles and let wine slowly age. The only problem is it's expensive AND can harbour wine-tainting bacteria. So synthetic corks are increasingly common for entry level and some mid-range wines.
Champagne Corks – The corks used for most quality sparkling wines are made from high quality composite cork with natural cork disc 'toppers'. They are held in place with a wire cage in order to withstand the huge amount of pressure from the bubbles inside – more air pressure than your average car tire! These corks start out straight, but take on their 'mushroom' shape from being in the bottle neck.
Screw Caps – Instead of a ‘plug’ of cork or plastic, screw caps use an aluminium capsule to seal the top of the bottle. Simply twist and the top part screws off, ready to be resealed as needed. They're great, although not nearly as sustainable as cork.
Getting to grips with a bottle opener
Corkscrews come in all shapes and sizes, but at sipp we prefer the classic waiter’s friend for its versatility and simplicity. We like it so much, in fact, we designed our own!
There are four main parts to a waiter's friend corkscrew: the handle, the blade, the worm (the corkscrew itself) and the arm (which, on some designs – like ours! – features a hinge and a built-in bottle opener).
Opening a bottle with a corkscrew
Practice makes perfect, but just follow our simple tips and you won't be intimidated by a bottle again!
1. Cut off the top of the foil capsule with the corkscrew's blade
2. Insert the worm of the corkscrew into the centre of the cork
3. Screw it in carefully while holding the corkscrew straight
4. With about ¾ of the worm inserted, anchor the lever against the bottle lip and pull up on the handle
5. Once around half of the cork is out, screw the worm in a little more and use the second lever heel to pull the rest of the cork out. Easy huh?
Opening a screwcap bottle
This one's super easy, right? Well, yes and no. Sometimes screwcaps go wrong, and when they do, they can be both frustrating and dangerous. To avoid the perforation not splitting properly when you twist it (and potentially slicing your hand open with shards of sharp aluminium), follow this simple tip:
1. Instead of holding the top part of the capsule, hold the bottom part, beneath the 'screw-off' cap itself.
2. Twist the capsule clockwise while twisting the bottle anticlockwise. This will give a very decisively 'snap' as the seal breaks, avoiding any screwcap complications.
Opening a bottle of sparkling wine
If you find this one the most intimidating, you're not alone. But it's nothing to be afraid of, just follow our simple steps and you'll be toasting your success in no time…
1. Either remove the foil capsule covering the cork, or simply find the little circular wire tab beneath the foil and prise it out
2. Unscrew the wire tab, loosening the 'cage' around the cork. From here keep a finger or thumb over the top of cork until it's removed AT ALL TIMES.
3. Once the wire cage is loosened, you can either remove it from the cork, or leave it in place (it helps give extra grip)
4. Hold the bottle at a 45° angle, making sure the bottle isn't pointing at anyone.
5. Holding the cork firmly, gently twist the bottle, letting the pressure inside push the cork out. Just be patient and wait for the satisfying 'pop'.
Remember: your sparkling wine has to be properly chilled before you open it, otherwise the wine will gush out once you pop the cork. It might look cool, but it's messy AND wastes wine, which is a crime.
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- The sipp guide to glassware
- How to shop for good wine
- How is sparkling wine made?
- Explaining common wine jargon
- The must-have guide for identifying defective wines
- Wine serving tips from a Sommelier
- The Dos and Don'ts of storing wine
- Wine chilling hacks
- Decanting wine, explained
- 3 wine glasses you need in your home
- How to read a wine list..