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Five wrong ways to open sparkling wines or Champagne

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There are few things as intimidating to the occasional wine drinker as removing a cork from a sparkling wine. First there is the worry over even removing the cork. Where was that samurai sword removal tool they had on Ebay? Then what does one do with an overflowing bottle that does not want to stop fizzing? Below are a few techniques one most definitely should not follow.

One: Start with an improperly chilled wine

This one is easy to fix if the wine came out of a refrigerator, as the wine should be at 45o F (7o C) and most ice boxes are at 35o F. However, removing the cork while the wine is at room temperature can easily simulate a World Series celebration in one’s own home. Clean up afterwards is something else.

Two: Stare directly at the cork as one pulls it out.

If one wants one’s nose out of joint, this could do it. Remember, there is a lot of pressure behind that cork so point it away from yourself and anyone else in close proximity. If your friends typically hide during this process, one might want to revisit their cork removal technique.

Three: Shake the bottle vigorously before opening

This is only appropriate for team celebrations and, hopefully, with a cheap sparkler. However, if the wine has traveled some distance and been bounced around, let it rest for a while before attempting to open, and chill it further if it has gotten warm. If the cork is straining against its wire restraints like a genie in a lamp, move away from the bottle.

Four: Use a corkscrew to remove the cork

This is almost impossible, but someone must have tried it. If the top is sliced off, it could be possible to insert a corkscrew. However, long before that point the now un-tethered cork will already have achieved escape velocity and be joining the satellites in their trip around the earth. There are devices specifically made for cork removal, but using one can be very dicey.

Five: Pop the cork and go for distance

The idea here is to gently remove the cork, not go for world record distance. Gradually remove the cork so all the pressure is not relieved all at once. This does take some practice. It is often easier to do this by grasping the base of the bottle, holding the cork tightly, and turning the base, not the cork. The mechanical advantage obtained makes it easier to safely and gradually remove the cork.

There is still the decision of what type of glass to use with sparkling wines, which to avoid and the proper pouring technique. But that’s another list for another day.



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