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First Pull the Cork

August 28, 2009
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Here is a bit of wine knowledge I picked up from a brief encounter with the wine industry.  Do you know why Americans don’t drink more wine?  Because they are not opening up bottles of wine.


Apparently opening up a bottle of wine is a major barrier to consumption.  And there are a few reasons for this:
–       Wine is often put away and saved for a special occasion, yet no occasion ever feels special enough.
–       Wine often sits waiting for that mystical time when it will be at its peak (more on this later).
–       Wine is sealed with that pesky old-fashioned closure made out of the regenerating bark of a tree.

Well, as they say, if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.

The first barrier is readily addressed by Open That Bottle Night.  Which will be here sooner than you think.  So let’s start thinking about what you will serve with your special bottle, and who you will invite to share it with you.  I know someone who would be delighted to receive an invitation.

The second barrier, as I so deftly hinted at, is really based on a myth.  I don’t want to take the wind out of the sails of my future post.  But suffice it to say, the only true way of knowing a wine has peaked is drinking it once it has past its peak.  This issue is not about wine, but rather basic logic.

So let’s address the third barrier: those pesky corks.  Yes you could get wine with a screw-top closure.  Some great wines have gone that route in the past few years, and one should feel no shame in adopting the form.  Remorse, possibly.  Shame, no.

Remorse in the fact that something as steeped in tradition as the wine cork is on the decline.  Yes, I do believe some fine wines will never deviate from cork.  But the way people are consuming wines is changing.  The way winemakers are making wines is changing.  Everyone is moving toward young, drinkable wines.  And for this, it is clear that screw-tops are the better choice.

Perhaps the tide will turn.

But for now, there are still plenty of bottles with corks in them.  And those corks are working tirelessly at keeping that wine in the bottle and out of your glass.  You need a powerful tool.  But you do not need a cork removal system.  Any jerk can use a Rabbit or what-have-you.

You need something with a little more finesse.  But something that won’t make you shred the wine cork and look like a bigger a-hole than the competent but clueless* person with the lever-pull in its velveteen case.

You need a jazzed-up waiter’s corkscrew with a hinged two-stage lever and a Teflon worm.  That’s not as elaborate as it sounds. The worm is the fancy name for the part that screws into the cork.  A Teflon-coated one will help it slip easily into the spongy cork without making it a crumbly mess.  The hinged lever makes actually pulling the cork out a snap because you are not fighting the torque from the angle of inflection.  That sounds pretty good considering I actually have no understanding of the physics, beyond “levers make things easier” so with two it must be even easier still.

What I do understand is how easy it is to use a real corkscrew, if you have a good one.  Thank you Raf for the wedding gift that keeps on giving.

Now get one, and open up some wine

* Driving enthusiasts might say the same thing about me, choosing an automatic over a manual transmission.  Yes, I can make the car get me to where I want to go, but I’m not really driving.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. cory marcus permalink
    August 28, 2009 12:35 pm

    I still love a good rabbit!

  2. August 28, 2009 2:47 pm

    Great post! I agree, wine is meant to be consumed…I too received a wonderful corkscrew as a wedding gift – the only problem is, the corks that are not made of actual cork – tend to get stuck. Hubby and i have a routine of how to remove said stuck cork, but it does not work very well….Thoughts? Suggestions?

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