Closures of wine bottles and how to open them

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Closures are used to protect the wines from the harmful contact with oxygen after bottling. There are different types of closures nowadays than before.

Natural cork is a traditional stopper for both still and sparkling wines, and is still the most widely used closure. Some people believe that corks allow a tiny amount of oxygen into the bottle, which can help the wine to mature. However, cork closure may cause cork taint, or oxidation or abnormal aging due to cork failure.

The shape of corks for still wine and sparkling wine are different.

Synthetic cork is commonly known as ‘plastic cork’. Some winemakers do not believe synthetic corks will allow their premium wines to age for long enough. But, synthetic cork producers like Nomacorc argue that it solves the problem of cork taint, and there are a range of closures that allow winemakers to choose how much oxygen is getting through.

The history of using screwcap for wine bottling is less than 60 years. Screwcap is welcomed by white wine producers in New World countries like Australia and New Zealand, because it avoids the taint problem and can provide an airtight seal to preserve the fresh fruit character in the wine. However, consumers in different national markets have different acceptance levels on screwcap, and in some markets, screwcap wines may be mistakenly considered as cheap wines.

How to open a bottle of still wine with cork

There are many different types of corkscrews. The wing corkscrew and the waiter’s friend are two common types for household use.

1. Using wing corkscrew

1) Use a knife or the tip of the corkscrew to cut round below the lip of the bottle to remove the top of the foil.
2) Place the wing corkscrew on the top of the bottle with the tip of the screw in the centre of the cork and the wings lowering against the bottle neck.
3) Hold the corkscrew with one hand and turn the handle to twist the screw into the cork with other hand. The wings will gradually rise to an upright position whilst turning the handle.
4) Push down the wings with both hands to remove the cork from the bottle.

2. Using waiter’s friend corkscrew

1) Use the folded knife on the corkscrew to cut round below the lip of the bottle to remove the top of the foil.

2) Unfold the screw, put the tip straight down in the centre of the cork, then lift the corkscrew to an upright position and begin twisting. Keep twisting until there is one spiral left.

3) Put the lever on the rim of the bottle and pull to dislodge the cork. With a double lever corkscrew, use the first lever to pull the cork until the second lever can be put into place, and repeat the action until the cork nearly comes out.
4) Use your hand to completely hold the cork and gently pull it out to avoid any sound.

How to open a bottle with screwcap

When opening a bottle with screwcap, do not turn the cap as it can be hard to hold. Turn the sleeve around the upper part of the bottle neck clockwise instead to break the small metal bridges, then turn the cap to open the bottle.

How to open a sparkling wine

1. Chill the wine to the correct temperature to reduce the pressure in the bottle.

2. Remove the foil and loosen the wire cage. Hold the cork securely in place from the moment the wire cage is loosened.
3. Tilt the bottle at an angle around 30°-45°, and make sure it is not pointing against anyone.

4. Grip the cork with one hand, and grip the bottom of the bottle with the other hand.
5. Turn the bottle (NOT the cork) whilst hold the cork firmly to resist its tendency to fly out until the cork nearly comes out.
6. Ease the cork slowly with an angle to let the gas out first, and then gently pull the cork out of the bottle. Avoid making an aggressive sound when doing so.

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