Opening the bottle
This seems to be a very mysterious and often difficult job, but once you’ve opened one bottle “professionally” a sudden urge seems to develop to open more and more bottles just for the practice.
1. Place the bottle on a table or, if you’re sitting down put it between your legs
2. With the little pen knife at the end of the opener, remove the foil cap by sliding the sharp edge just below the top edge of the bottle (see illust)
3. With the foil removed take the corkscrew part and insert it in the center of the cork and start turning it clockwise until the coiled part is all the way into the cork
4. Use the hinge lever on the edge of the bottle and place your fingers around it.
Slowly lever the cork out as shown below. If you remember to apply downward pressure with your arms, keeping the bottle firmly on it’s base and then hinge the lever upwards, it becomes relatively easy .
Good etiquette dictates that you do not make a “popping” noise when pulling out the cork. This requires subtle practice and takes a little while. Don’t worry too much about this for now, after all we want to taste this wine right ?
If you have opened a red wine then allow it to “breathe” for 10-20 mins is fine, quicker still if you pour it out in a glass. If you can’t wait then just go ahead. Take the wine glass to your lips and always just try very small amounts first. Let the wine trickle down your throat and start your taste buds working. White wine will remain the same unless it becomes warmer, however the red wine will change flavour as it reacts with the air.
In most cases, it becomes better as you get to the bottom of the bottle. This means one of 2 things. Either the wine is “ageing” and maturing and the full flavours come through OR you are becoming drunk and the alchohol is completely overriding your taste buds. If you are not continuing with the wine I suggest immediate re corking and putting it in the fridge, even the reds.
White wine will stay OK for another day or so and the red for another 2 days or sometimes 3. If you have a vacuum pump then you can double the life span.
With the advent of the Screw Cap (Stelvin Closure) it is now easier to open and close the wine bottle and in most cases this will allow you to keep the bottle a little longer. I have personally tested a bottle of red which I opened everyday to pour one glass and close it again and the bottle lasted 5 days and the last glass tasted perfect. I am a big fan of the Stelvin Closure and now it looks like the “Big Boys” Like Henschke and Penfold’s Grange are also using the Stelvin. In fact tests done in Australia rcently comparing a 10 year old wine under cork and 10 year old under Stelvin showed that the Stelvin closure kept the freshness and bold fruit taste far better than the cork closure.