Tricks of the Trade
By: George Balling
For those of us who really enjoy wine it is good to know some tricks that increase that enjoyment. From opening bottles to sealing them better so your wine lasts longer once opened to fitting an opened bottle of white in the refrigerator there are tricks and gadgets that help with all of these small challenges. Some of the tips we have written about before and some are new but they are all helpful.
Opening a bottle of Champagne is can be one of the more daunting tasks for any of us. There is a simple trick though to easing the cork out of the bottle that will minimize the “ear splitting” pop of the cork and also the scariness of the cork flying across the room. Also, by easing the cork out of the bottle you limit the loss of the lovely fizziness of sparkling wine. Once you remove the foil and cage that secures the cork to the bottle firmly grip the cork with your thumb over the end of the cork. Here is the most important part, hold the cork firmly and with your other hand grasp the bottom of the bottle and turn the bottle, not the cork. Hold firm on the cork as you turn the bottle and cork starts to twist until it eases out with the slightest of fizz.
If you don’t consume your bubbly in an expeditious manner you may want to seal it with a bouchon. This wine cap is specifically designed for use with sparkling wine as it has a clamp that hooks around the neck of the bottle so the pressure from the bubbles doesn’t push the bouchon off. We sell them from $17 to $32. There is a trick also for removing a bouchon without the loud pop. Hold the bouchon tightly and loosen the “arm” that secures it to the neck of the bottle then gently bend the bouchon to one side to release the pressure slowly, and as we like to say “it’s off”!
I prefer to use a traditional waiter’s style corkscrew. When you are dealing with older bottles or those sealed with a plastic cork, the regular old corkscrew can be challenging to use. Wine bottles sealed with natural cork are stored on their sides for a reason. The wine keeps the cork wet which not only expands the cork providing for the proper seal to preserve the wine but it also allows it to come out easier. With older bottles and plastic corks though this will not always do the trick.
Two styles of corkscrews can help with these stubborn or old corks. The “Oso” opener is not a corkscrew at all rather it has two prongs that slip down the outside of the cork between it and the bottle. You rock this opener back and forth to get it into the bottle and then it eases the cork out when you pull up.
The other type that works well is a bell or wing styled opener. Both of these have a collar that fits over the neck of the bottle as you twist the worm of the corkscrew into the cork. When you pull the cork there is equal pressure around the neck of the bottle to “break” the cork free in an easier fashion.
Once you have a bottle of white wine open many times it will not fit into the refrigerator because the cork sticks up too high. For a few years now we have carried the wine sealer called a Capabunga. They are manufactured in Windsor California and are a simple leak proof silicon cap that fits over the bottle. Not only do they have zero clearance so the bottle will fit in your “fridge” more easily, since they don’t leak you can easily lay the bottle on its side.
If you have a bottle that is not fully consumed by the end of the evening the best way to preserve the wine until your next chance to consume it is Private Preserve. The can contains gas form Argon. The gas is both inert and heavier than oxygen, so when you spritz it in your open bottle of wine it displaces the oxygen off of the wine. Oxygen is what causes wine to spoil once opened so removing it from contact with the wine buys you 24 – 48 hours more time to enjoy the wine. Argon is what they use to top bottles in winery tasting rooms and is the most effective preservative. The can of Private Preserve sells for $12 and contains 120 applications.
If you have a specific wine challenge you need help with, please come by the shop or give us a call and we are happy to help.