How to Open a Bottle of Wine

By Morgan Modica
German Riesling | Wine Tasting

German Riesling | Wine Tasting

Wouldn’t life be infinitely more glamorous if we automatically knew how to correctly handle all things adult, like properly opening a bottle of vino?  We enlisted Master Sommelier (and the most inspiring wine expert we know) June Rodil, who is the Wine & Beverage Director at McGuire Moorman Hospitality, to give us a spill-proof, step-by-step introduction to this life skill that we should all master before our next dinner party.

 How to Open a Bottle of Still Wine:

1. Remove the foil with the knife, the aptly named, “foil cutter” of your corkscrew. I recommend starting under the lowest lip of the bottle.

2.With your index finger on the worm (the actual “screw” part of the corkscrew), point it directly at the center of the cork and press inwards.
German Riesling | Wine Tasting

3. Screw the cork down until the last coil (don’t go past it; it’ll be difficult to get the right leverage if you do). Hook the lever or “bottle-opener” part of the cork screw to the lip of the bottle and, securing that down, slowly lift the handle upwards.

German Riesling | Wine Tasting

4. The leverage will start moving the cork out of the bottle. I recommend pulling out the cork slowly because the last part of the cork is most apt to break off. My trick is to leave the last part of the cork in and then shimmy it out with my hands.

German Riesling | Wine Tasting

  • Side note: lots of people smell the cork when it’s presented in a restaurants. Pro tip: you actually just want to look at it to make sure it’s not too dry or damaged. However, even if it is, it doesn’t determine if the wine is undrinkable. The smell of the cork may not actually tell you if the wine is okay. Ultimately, the most important aspect is if the wine tastes good to you, so just give the cork a glance and go for the taste-test!

 How to Open a Bottle of Bubbly Wine:

1. Most sparkling wine has a little tab on the foil to assist with easily unwrapping it. This is really the only step where you would use a wine key (corkscrew). I like to use my foil cutter to unwrap it. After this step: set your key aside. Or feel free to go wine-key-free the whole time and use your hands!

2. The most important part of opening a bottle of sparkling wine is to never point the cork in anyone’s direction. There’s a lot of pressure in that bottle and can be dangerous if someone is accidentally hit with a flying cork. My trick: leave the cage (the little hat that’s on top of the cork) on the entire time you’re opening it.

German Riesling | Wine Tasting

3. Keep the thumb of your dominate hand on top of the cage and cork. Slowly unwind the cage, or muselet. It always has six turns to it. I’m a little o.c.d., so I always count 1,2,3,4,5,6….and then widen the cage away from the cork without taking your thumb from the top.

4. Grip your hand over the top of the cork and keep it stationary. With your other hand securing the base of the bottle, slowly twist the bottle from the bottom (don’t twist the cork).

German Riesling | Wine Tasting

5. Once you feel the pressure from the inside of the bottle pushing the cork out, keep your grip steady and slightly turn your wrist downward.. this will allow the pressure of the cork to “kiss” out of the side of the lip of the bottle rather than shooting the cork out!

German Riesling | Wine Tasting

  • Big “POPS!” are always fun for celebrations, so feel free to ignore most of the above if you want that fun affect — just remember not to point the cork at anyone!

Thank you June for the tips! For lots more on June, this gorgeous location, and the wine you should be drinking this summer, read all about our tasting party at Jeffrey’s on Is Riesling the New Rosé?

*photography by Jessica Attie