Today’s blog post comes to you courtesy of guest blogger, Harry Clark. Harry is a wine aficionado, one of the best local wine brokers in Orlando, and has a taste for great grapes at affordable prices. Check him out at PRPWines or on Facebook.
Yesterday, a friend asked me to write something about wine. When I taught wine appreciation, I started with opening the bottle.
So once again, we begin at the beginning: your corkscrew. Why? Because this, my friends is the first area where you can get your wine-drinking experience right…or end up with cork in the bottle. And no respectable host wants to serve nice, chunky bits of pithy cork to their guests, now do they?
A good corkscrew has 3 basic parts, a foil cutter to remove the capsule that covers the cork, a worm that penetrates the cork, and some sort of mechanism that gives you leverage to get the cork out.
The best type of foil cutter is just a simple blade about ½ an inch long with a slight curve and preferably serrated. The curve makes cutting easier, and the serration makes the blade edge last longer- smooth blades dull when pressed into glass repeatedly.
Most wine bottles have a slightly wider ring of glass around the neck; cutting below this ring will prevent the wine from coming into contact with the capsule. Capsules can be made of lead or other materials that can affect the taste of wine.
The worm of a corkscrew should look like a wire that was wrapped around something about the size of a crayon- it should NOT look like a wood screw, you are trying to grip the cork not fasten something to it.
Teflon coated worms are an even nicer option. Leverage is an important consideration; you absolutely want some kind of leverage.
Holding the bottle in one hand and yanking with the other can range anywhere from awkward to quite strenuous. It is however frequently amusing – I have seen several bloody noses, a double-fisted, self-inflicted punch in the groin (while holding the bottle between the feet), and a lot (a LOT) of spilled wine. A two lever pull down model offers the best leverage and is probably the easiest to use, a lever that hooks on the lip of the glass allowing you to pull straight up is also a good choice, some of these levers have 2 positions to allow you to pull in 2 stages with more accuracy.
You do not want to pull the cork sideways and risk breaking it. There are many good wines that come in bottles that do not have corks- but a wine intended for holding onto for a while should be sealed with a cork.
Of course, if you’re screw-less, you can always try the old “slam-the-bottle-while-in-a shoe-onto-a-wall” trick. We don’t recommend it, and you may hit yourself in the face.
Till next time, enjoy life, drink great wine, and if you’re ever in Orlando, look me up and say hello!
– Harry Clark, Wine consultant – PRP wines international.