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Wine Education

Top Tips

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Grand Opening

Take it from the top. Three experts offer tips on the art of opening -- and preserving -- that special wine.

Master Sommelier Tim Gaiser of San Francisco, education director for the Court of Master Sommeliers:

"To me, the Screwpull is the best overall way for anyone to open any wine. Simply place the auger on top of the bottle and pull.

“To open sparkling wine, make sure the bottle is ice cold. Chill in the refrigerator for two hours or in an ice bucket with half ice, half water for at least 30 minutes. Be sure that the neck is chilled along with the bottle.

"Contrary to popular belief, you don't really want the loudest pop. Never remove the wire cage from the cork -- it is there to prevent the cork from flying out. Instead, unscrew the cage's wire and loosen cage and cork together by gently turning the base of the bottle -- not the cork. The cork should ease out gently, with a sigh rather than a loud pop."

Darryl Beeson of Dallas, sommelier and wine educator for the International Sommelier Guild:

"My first piece of advice on opening wine -- do it often! Cut the foil capsule below rather than over the lip. It makes a cleaner cut and eliminates foil shards that can stick out and negatively affect your pour.

"For delicate corks, use an Ah-So opener, which pulls corks out whole without piercing."

Sommelier Kim Wallace of Houston, Republic Beverage Diamond Division:

"When opening old or unfiltered wines, I suggest two procedures: If drinking it in a day or so, set the bottle upright and leave it undisturbed to allow sediment to settle at the bottom. Decant the wine, and slowly pour it into a container while lighting the underside of the neck with a flashlight. When you see sediment, stop pouring.

"If drinking it within an hour or two, pull the wine from storage in its horizontal position, place it into a wine cradle with as little tilting as possible to keep the sediment settled, then decant and filter with a fine mesh strainer."

Click here for more great articles on storing and serving wine.

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