Hub’s Hints: How To Open a Bottle of Wine 2

HUB’S HINTS – HOW TO OPEN A BOTTLE OF WINE

While on a “Glamorous” camping trip, having dinner with friends and colleagues or enjoying a nice meal at home, have you ever been uncomfortable opening a bottle of wine? Fear no more! Hub’s is here to help with a simple and easy method of pulling a cork from a wine bottle.

Extracting a cork from a bottle of wine is a relatively simple process, once a person is properly appraised and instructed.  I realize that this subject causes many people a great deal of angst and frustration.  Many consumers shy away from wine with cork closures because they are not comfortable or confident with getting the cork out of the bottle.  Well – lay your fears to rest!  After reviewing this outline and procedure (and with a little practice), you will approach the subject with self-confidence and self-assurance and you will sufficiently impress your friends and colleagues with your wine oriented knowledge and ability. Additionally, when you are comfortable with extracting a cork, you will open yourself to a wider array of quality wines.

There are literally thousands of varieties of openers and a number of modern contraptions that have been invented to make the process easier and more convenient.  But, from my prospective, I prefer the traditional “captain’s”, “sommelier” or “waiter”, wine key, corkscrew or wine opener (that covers most of the names for this type of opener).  My all time favorite wine opening apparatus is made by Leguiole.  I like this corkscrew based of the design, functionality and because of its very attractive appearance (Leguiole openers are works of art).  Also, I prefer a wine opener with a good-sized knife, not that useless little curved thing like on some units!

Although the Leguiole corkscrews are sleek, streamlined, beautiful and functional, they can be rather expensive.  Anyone that is not comfortable with the cost of this type of opener can seek out a corkscrew with similar design features.

The following steps outline a practical and less intimidating procedure for opening a bottle of wine.  The entire process can be accomplished on a counter, top of a dining table or even on a picnic table at a scenic campground in the great outdoors.  Please understand, this is not the recognized and official procedure of the Court of Master Sommeliers.  For the professional, this process is done entirely on one’s person and is intended for presentations table side in a fine dining establishment.  My procedure is more relaxed and convenient in nature.  The ultimate intention here is to make everyone comfortable with getting the cork out and the bottle open with the least amount of stress and frustration.

THE STEP BY STEP PROCESS. . .

REMOVE THE CAPSULE ~

Place the knife of the corkscrew against the bottom lip of the bottle, far enough away from the opening so, the foil will not come in contact with the wine while pouring because, it may taint the wine and contribute to a metallic taste.  Position the knife at a slight angle, this will help roll the foil up on the edge and assist you with its removal.

Cut completely around the circumference of the bottle making sure that the foil is adequately separated from the top portion of the capsule. With the edge of the knife, carefully remove the foil.  Some capsules are made of a plastic material.  With this type of closure the process is relatively the same.

Never try to extract the cork without removing the capsule.  Not removing the capsule before extracting the cork is not recommended ~ as seen below.  It will make for an unsightly mess and has the capacity to alter the taste of the wine.

Cut the foil carefully, being mindful not to tear the foil rendering the packaging unsightly ~ as seen below.

Never completely remove the capsule ~ as seen below.

CLEAN THE TOP OF THE BOTTLE ~

Especially with older vintages, there can be a sticky, gunkey, moldy and unsightly residue under the capsule that has accumulated during storage.  Do not fret, this is not a problem, it is quite normal and this does not mean that the wine has gone bad.  Just wipe clean the top of the cork and bottle with a lint free moist cloth.  Wipe the top clean even if you don’t see any residue.  Never use a paper napkin or a paper towel – that will be disastrous – with bits of torn paper defiantly clinging to the residue on the cork and bottle!

EXTRACT THE CORK ~

Insert the tip of the “spiral worm” in the center of the cork at a slight angle.

.  Insert the tip of the worm into the cork (about ¼ inch) – then, raise the corkscrew up to straight vertical position. 

While applying a gentle downward pressure, turn the worm (of the corkscrew, not the bottle) in a clockwise direction until the entire spiral worm coil is entirely embed into the cork.  Be careful to keep the worm in the center of the cork, parallel to the inside rim of the neck of the bottle.

Place the lever of the opener on the lip of the bottle, hold the lever firmly in place with your index finger of the opposite hand – keep fingers outside the prying fulcrum of the opener (it can be very painful if your fingers are caught inside the apparatus while pulling up on the corkscrew).

Begin pulling the lever of the opener in an upward and vertical fashion.  At a severe angle, the cork, bent and stressed, could split apart.  This can also happen when the spiral worm is not sufficiently embedded into the cork.

Completely remove the cork from the bottle.

AGAIN, CLEAN THE TOP OF THE BOTTLE ~

With a moist lint free cloth wipe clean the top of the bottle and around the opening, being very careful not to push any debris into the wine.

Following this final step you are ready to pour some wine and enjoy the fruits of your labors!

Although, I have personally witnessed this rather peculiar and somewhat obscene method of extracting a cork in a number of cafes and bistros along the famous and exceedingly prestigious Champs-Elysees in Paris; I do not approve or support this strange practice of putting the bottle of wine between the legs and yanking out the cork!  What were the waiters in Paris thinking?

There are many observations and considerations during the bottle opening process that have to do with the evaluation and appreciation of the wine.  I plan on covering this subject in a future blog contribution.

I trust that with a little practice you will ultimately be less intimidated and more comfortable with the process of opening a bottle of wine.  Also, I hope that in the future, you won’t relegate yourself to screw caps and bag-in-the-box wines only.  I don’t say that condescendingly!  There are many respectable wines that are being released with “Stelvin” closures (nice name for screw caps) and being sold as boxed wines.  But hopefully, with the knowledge of how to “pull a cork” you will feel less anxiety or apprehension regarding wines with cork closures.  Confident and competent, you will be comfortable enough to “widen your horizons” and consider a greater range of wines that are available with corks.

Thank you for the opportunity to share this learning with everyone.

Hubs

Photo source: Anna Sullivan Photography

Hub’s Hints: How To Hold A Wine Glass 2

HUB’S HINTS – Wine Tips

How to Hold a Wine Glass. . .

This week I wanted to respectfully and delicately broach a subject that may, on the surface, seem a bit trite.  But, like many things in life, there is an actual “proper” way of doing everything.  I believe that most everyone would like to demonstrate knowledge and experience in all matters and appear intelligent, cognizant, sophisticated and socially appropriate.  Then again, some of the people I come in contact with don’t seem to care at all.  Forgetting for a moment those heathen types who don’t care and are oblivious and to let all those who are interested know, there is a recognized and proper way to hold a wine glass.  Generally there seems to be a misunderstanding regarding this situation.  I have seen many different variations of this subject in restaurants, clubs, bars and at private functions (and, at varying states of inebriation!).  In the course of this post, I would like to explain the reasons and benefits for holding a wine glass in a certain prescribed manner.  Not only is this a matter of proper etiquette but, it also demonstrates respect for others, the winemaker’s art and the wine being consumed. Also, it will insure the maximum pleasurable experience for the consumer.

Please understand, there are many reasons why wine is normally served in stemware of various types and sizes (see Riedel wine glasses for additional information).  But, before explaining the rational behind how to hold a glass – this is how it is done.

Hold the stem of the glass between your index finger and thumb and / or your thumb, index finger and middle finger.  Like this. . .

Or this. . .

An acceptable variation would allow for the “pinkie” to support and balance the glass under the base.  This is especially important with large-sized wine glasses that may feel a bit cumbersome and difficult to balance.  Like this. . . 

With a sophisticated, debonair and “wine aficionado” flair, one would pinch the base of the glass with the thumb and index finger.  Like this. . .

Now the No No’s!

Never allow for the fingers or palm of the hand to come in contact with the bowl of the glass.  Like this. . .

Do not cradle the glass in your hand like a brandy snifter.  Like this. . .

Don’t grab the entire stem of the glass with your fist.  Never like this. . .

Looking back at these photos taken by my wife, I can see why I was never selected as a hand model!  Short, pudgy fingers, fat little hands and unattractive fingernails – even a top grade manicure would not have helped!

The reasons and rational ~

There are a number of considerations in this regard but, to start let’s examine the situation from one’s personal enjoyment and satisfaction.  If for no other reason  (I suspect this particular blog viewing public is more respectful than to have their own personal satisfaction above all other considerations or, I would not say anything and allow those poor unfortunate souls to wonder aimlessly in the wine consumption world and confirm their lack of understanding and social graces).  But, to maximize your personal appreciation and satisfaction consider the following:

Visibility ~ with wine, there is a definite visual appreciation of the clarity, brilliance and the appealing color variations of the wine.   If the bowl of the glass is smudged, smeared, imprinted and encrusted with whatever you had on your hands before grabbing the glass the visual aspects of the wine will be marred and not at all attractive.  Think about fried chicken, no matter how you wipe your hands there will be some unsightly residue remaining that would be transferred to the glass.  If the glass is not clean and clear of foreign material, the beautiful color, the subtle color variation, the clarity and brilliance of the wine cannot be truly appreciated.

Aroma ~ depending on what you had on your hands and how much of it is transferred to the glass, (with some people, I wont go there) a definite odor may be present that can conflict with the delicate aroma and bouquet of the wine.

Temperature ~ please be aware and understand, the temperature of the wine can be altered with the warmth of your hot little hands.  If the temperature is not at optimum condition, a less than pleasurable experience will be registered.  Temperature is more critical with white wines and rose that are intended to be consumed at cooler temperatures.  The heat from your hands can take the chill off of the wines in a very short time frame.

Etiquette ~ while in public eye (the best habits are practiced in the privacy of one’s home), it is important to adhere to a few social graces.  In this day and age, society seems to have adopted a more “relaxed” attitude and / or a complete and utter disregard for proper etiquette.  I believe that compliance with a few old (and now, apparently somewhat antiquated) social graces demonstrates knowledge, intelligence, self-respect and a consideration for others.  You wouldn’t chew with your mouth open, smack your lips, slurp your wine or wipe your mouth on the tablecloth so, why hold the glass improperly? 

Respect ~ holding the wine glass properly demonstrates respect and consideration for the host, the restaurant establishment, for others in your general vicinity, the winemaker’s art and ultimately respect for the wine being served and consumed.  An unsightly glass has the capacity to distract from the wine and adversely affect the entire dining party.  For maximum appreciation for the laborious task of winemaking and to insure a quality oriented appreciation for the wine, please consider holding the glass in the proper manner.

For those of you who that are aware of this situation, I beg your indulgence.  For everyone else; you may now consume wine while in public with reckless abandon and with the utmost confidence that you are demonstrating a superior knowledge, a special understanding and an expertise on the subject.

By-the-way, I am aware of new and fashionable wine glasses that do not have a stem.  I for one am not a proponent of this type of glassware for all of the reasons outlined above.  I would avoid them like the plague!

This blog was honestly and sincerely intended to be helpful.  Thank you for allowing me to share this seemingly “trite” but, important information with you.

Hubs