Okay, here we are. The moment when praxis meets poetry, when everyone around is closely following every little action that leads to the opening of the bottle... yeah, you wish, don't you? We all agree on the fact that opening a bottle is a moment of great appeal, but practice and elegance should not be mistaken for mere entertainment. Having that said, what is the correct procedure to open a bottle? Once the guests have arrived, once the wine has been chosen and duly brought to the right temperature, the only thing that is left for us to do is to open the bottle.
What tools are we going to need?
- Professional corkscrew
Winged or nail-like corkscrews, as well as all other similarly fishy tools must be banned.
Professional corkscrews allow to cut through the capsule foil without leaving residues. Also, because you will not dig a whole through the cork, there is no risk of cork pieces falling inside the bottle into the wine. Their price ranges from €4,00 to €300.
- Twin-prong cork puller
Clearly, this is tool is not meant for everyday use, but it is rather helpful when the cork is friable or partly damaged. Its two prongs must be pushed between the cork and the neck of the bottle, so that the cork will be removed by twisting the puller, with no need of digging through it.
- Rapid wine thermometer
Although it is not very common, this tool will prove efficient to measure the temperature of the wine.
Be it made of paper, silk, plastic or even of the skin of your annoying neighbour who chooses to perform the noisiest bricolage at 8:00 am, I highly suggest you use a napkin whenever you want to open a bottle of wine. It is not about being sophisticated, it is about being thoughtful. If the bottle is wet because it has been resting in icy water, you will be able to wipe it dry; if it is a particularly dense red wine, you will avoid irreversibly staining your beloved tablecloth.
- Screw clamp for sparkling wines
Some sparkling wines may be particularly difficult to open. If this is the case, it may be easier to remove the cork by means of a screw clamp. If you do not have one, then a nutcracker will do, even though this may not probably be the classiest or most technical tool ever.
How do you open a bottle?
Without getting too deep into the art of opening wine bottles, hence leaving special wines and specific procedures aside, let us look at how bottles of wine should be opened at home.
To begin with, place the bottle on the table, in vertical position, making sure that the label is facing your guests. This detail is not sheer formality but serves as a means of promoting the product you are offering. Besides the fact that some labels are particularly elaborated, it is certainly a pity to cover the name of the winery, the vintage of the wine, and all other information that are generally reported, especially if it is a valuable bottle.
At this point, use the knife of the corkscrew to cut the foil of the capsule, just beneath the rim, to avoid that piece of foil will unintendedly end up in someone's glass. The cut should be clean: there is no need to destroy the whole capsule. To illustrate the step through an analogy, think of the capsule as you would think of a woman's night dress. I like to think that you will unzip it with a little tact and savoir faire, unless you are a masochist and like to face the consequences of a reckless behaviour in such a delicate occasion. Once the capsule has been removed, it is best to clean the upper part of the bottle and of the cork with a napkin. This will minimise the risk of micro-fragments of foil falling inside the bottle while you are opening it.
Now, it is time to use the worm. It has to be pushed inside the middle of the cork in such a way that will make the corkscrew stay perfectly straight. As to avoid breaking the cork when leveraging it, the corkscrew and the bottle should not be moved too much. Once extracted, I suggest cleaning the sides of the neck of the bottle to get rid of possible residuals of cork.
After carefully checking that the wine has no flaws, you can begin to pour it. Please, I know you may feel incredibly thirsty after all the effort and you may want to quench your throat immediately, but ladies should be served first, followed by guests, and only eventually by you.