How to open a bottle of wine - the correct way

Open wine the right way with a waiter's corkscrew

With all of the gadgets and different type of wine openers around, we'd like to discuss some of the fundamentals of opening a bottle of wine. Before diving any deeper, however, let us preface this wine tip by saying that if you have a screw cap, just (un)screw it.  This post shows how to open a bottle of wine with a waiter's corkscrew, which is the preferred (and fastest) way to open a bottle of wine.

Cut the foil at the first lip

The first place we see a lot of people have trouble is with the foil. We've seen all sorts of maneuvering and different methods for removing the foil. In all honesty, as long as you don't pull the cork directly through the foil (we know a lot of you are guilty - just make sure you were having fun), you're doing just fine. Just make sure the foil doesn't come into contact with the wine!

When using a waiter's corkscrew, you'll get a nice, clean cut

Foil cutters can help make a nice, even cut, but if you are a purist or only have a wine key (waiter's corkscrew), you are technically supposed to cut along the bottom of the first lip at the very top of the bottle - but it's ok if you cut at the lower lip. This takes a little practice but is relatively easy to get the hang of.

Don't go all the way through the cork

Now that you've removed the foil, it's time to pop the cork. The most important thing here is to only go about 2/3rds to 3/4ths of the way through the cork. If you go all the way through (which is extremely easy to do with many of the common openers) you will puncture the "wine-side" of the cork and get cork in the wine.

Don't go all the way through the cork

A good trick is to watch the top of the waiter's corkscrew - when you still have one turn left, you've gone far enough in. If you break through and get cork in the wine, it's not the end of the world, it'll just make the texture of the wine less appealing.  

Leave one turn left unturned to make sure you don't go all the way through the cork

Once you have the opener successfully screwed into the cork, begin to pull it out. Depending on what type of opener you're using, you should NOT pull the cork all the way out while still attached to the opener (for some openers it is ok). Once the cork is most of the way out, you should unscrew the opener from the cork and finish pulling the cork out with your fingers. This creates one of the most satisfying pops in the world. Cheers!

Robert Wilson, CSW


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  • Jim Washburn
    A good reminder.