“Removing the Cork 101” ~ It’s a piece of Cake, Honest!

Just can’t get enough of this one, as I watch people struggle all the time, including nervous wait servers.

Why is pulling out a cork so darn intimidating?

Because very few of us in our American culture were raised on wine, so we don’t know how darned easy it is.

As we’re on stage when it’s our turn to remove the cork, our palms begin to sweat as we begin to insert the cork screw’s sharp, little point. Moisture begins to gather around our hair line, as we turn the cork screw in a clockwise motion. Then, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen next. Will we get it out, as the cork screw descends further into the bottle? Again, it’s anyone’s guess…

Well, that used to be the case for me. Once I began to work in winery tasting rooms, and that cork had to come out (because people were standing before me eager to taste the wine I was about to pour), I learned how to do it so quickly and smoothly that I surprised even myself.

Here’s how you, too, can look like you’ve opened enough corks to fill that wine barrel table you’ve created that’s full of corks, and has a glass top covering your masterpiece, so everyone can gather round and ogle at what you’ve done.

1. Securely grab your cork screw in one hand and your bottle of wine in the other.

2. Use absolute straight down aim at that tiny cork (you’re so much bigger than that cork, so you’ve got to win this battle, and you will).

3. In the absolute dead center of the cork, insert the cork screw tip in a straight downward motion. (Don’t angle this procedure, as that’s the REAL trick in all of this… straight down.)

4. As the cork screw enters the cork, use a bit of pressure to make sure that the cork screw and cork are united in harmony.

5. Without any angling of what you’re doing, begin to twist the cork screw while simultaneously pressing downward, until all the “screw” part of it is inserted into the cork.

6. With a smooth, gentle force (you don’t want any splashing onto what you’re wearing), pull the cork straight out of the bottle. It’s all in the wrist pulling in an upward motion, too.

This is guaranteed to make you look like a pro, and the sweat will never bead up on your forehead, again. (Three) Cheers!

And, welcome to Removing the Cork 102, where many producers are (sadly) switching to screw caps!

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2 Responses to ““Removing the Cork 101” ~ It’s a piece of Cake, Honest!”

  1. Simple but powerful topic, Jo. This and cutting the foil in the right place (under the second lip, not the top one!) is something people struggle with.

    I do have to say that I’m more inclined to go at the cork at an angle until the twisted tip of the worm (the “screw”) is in, then center it out so the hollow center of the worm is dead above the center of the cork. The important thing is to make sure that imaginary center of the worm is straight though, where many people I think put the sharp tip of the work dead center on the cork, and go astray.


  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Very good advice, Ryan. People do try to go dead center, and that’s the big mistake from the onset.

    It’s amazing to me that something so small is so largely intimidating. After opening about anywhere from 60 to 80 bottles a day (in a bit of a hurry) at Mondavi Winery, something just clicked for me.

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