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Wine Decanters and How to Remove Corks


Removing the cork from a bottle of wine is not difficult, but there are several rules that should be followed. To prevent the cork from breaking while it is being extracted, be sure to insert the corkscrew so that the point just pierces the end of the cork next to the wine. Take care to insert the corkscrew down the center of the cork, so that it does not touch the neck of the bottle.

Champagne and other sparkling wines require special handling because their corks are under a great deal of pressure. If not treated with care and respect, these corks can become dangerous missiles propelled through the air with surprising force.

Although the popping of Champagne corks creates a festive atmosphere, it is the wrong way to open a sparkling wine because in addition to being dangerous, it harms the wine. One of the reasons that Champagne is special is the bubbles, and the popping of the cork reduces these. To avoid this, first, peel off the foil surrounding the cork and neck of the bottle. While applying pressure to hold the cork in, carefully loosen the metal straps holding the cork. After the straps are removed, continue to press down on the cork and gently twist the bottle, not the cork. When you hear the gas begin to escape around the edges of the cork, do not let the cork escape your grip. The gentle hissing sound will be followed by a barely audible pop, this indicates that you have done the job properly. In this way the wine will not form foam that will suddenly gush out of the bottle and the bubbles will have been preserved.


It is true that wines, especially reds, need to breathe before they can be fully enjoyed. There are two distinct attitudes towards decanting wines. The English and the Americans tend to believe that most wines over a decade old should be decanted. Frenchmen (and this writer) feel that the best place for a wine to breathe is in the wine glass itself. Agreement is universal, however, that it is wise to decant very old wines, especially those reds that have sediment in the bottom of their bottles. Decanting the wine carefully will leave the sediment behind and allow it to be poured into a wine glass without worry. When decanting, be sure to pour very smoothly so that the wine does not swish back and forth in the bottle and agitate the sediment.

Some people also like to decant young red wines because this gives them a chance to “open up” before they are drunk. In such cases we recommend merely turning the bottle upside down over the decanter, this gives the wine a chance to pour out rapidly and have maximum exposure to the air.



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