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Opening a Bottle of Wine

Ready or Not?

opening a wine bottleDrink it now or let it age? In most cases, there's no need to wait to open up that bottle! Only a few styles of wine—including vintage Champagne, premium Cabernet Sauvignon and a number of European reds—truly benefit from a few years in the bottle. They become smoother and more complex over time.

However, the vast majority of wines sold today are ready to open and enjoy just as soon as they're put on the shelf. This is especially true of many whites as well as big, fruity reds such as Merlot, red Zinfandel, and Shiraz from the New World. In fact, many of these varieties of wine actually start deteriorating within a few years of release. So if you've been hoarding any, it's high time to pull those corks!

Still Wines

To open a bottle of still (non-sparkling) wine, set the bottle on a firm, flat surface. Use a knife or foil cutter to cut around and remove the foil. Choose whichever type of corkscrew you feel most comfortable with, just be sure to keep it straight as you twist it clockwise into the cork. Try to avoid puncturing the other side of the cork so you don’t end up with extra bits floating in your wine. Remove the cork with the corkscrew. NOTE: Never use a corkscrew to open a Champagne bottle.

Champagnes and Sparkling Wines

Follow these steps and you’ll be celebrating in no time.

  • Remove the foil from the wire cage that wraps the cork. Holding down the cork with a cloth napkin or a kitchen towel, twist the tab to loosen the wire cage.
  • Tilt the bottle away from you at a 45-degree angle to allow space for expansion of the bubbles. With the cloth still over the top of the bottle, grasp the cork with one hand and gently twist the bottle with the other (the trick is to twist the bottle, not the cork). Let the pressure in the bottle gently force out the cork. The cloth will catch any small sprays of foam.
  • Slowly pour Champagne into glasses.

BEWARE: A sparkling wine bottle packs a lot of pressure. When opening a bottle, keep hold of the cork, never point the bottle at anyone, and never set a half-opened bottle aside to pop open later.