Finding it difficult to open a bottle of wine? Try these tips for easy access to your favourite drink

How to Drink Better: Whatever corkscrew you buy, make sure it has a coil rather than a solid screw

Q. What is the best way to open a bottle of wine?

A. It seems simple and most of us do it on a very regular basis, but I know many readers find it a challenge to open a bottle of wine.

Corkscrews first. Having tested all of the available corkscrews, including some very expensive models, I use a waiter’s friend — the industry standard, used by sommeliers and wine drinkers alike. It is a small folding corkscrew that fits neatly into your pocket. The best have a double hinge that allows you to lever the cork out in two movements.

Whatever corkscrew you buy, make sure it has a coil rather than a solid screw which will rip a big hole in the cork without removing it. It should also have a small knife to remove the foil.

  1. Cut the foil below the lip and remove the cap, being careful with your fingers.
  2. Place the screw just off the centre of the cork and slowly twist it five or six full turns into the cork until most of the curl of the corkscrew is hidden. Hold the bottle upright and steady with your other hand.
  3. Using the smaller part of the double hinge slowly start to ease the cork out. Straighten the hinge and slowly remove the cork.

Very old wines may have weak corks and require a lot more care. Plastic corks can be difficult to remove and need a bit of muscle.


What about bottles with wax tops? It has become fashionable to put a wax seal over the cork instead of a metal capsule. Instead of chipping away at the wax, which can be very messy, simply twist the corkscrew through the wax into the cork as you would a standard bottle and remove it as normal. The wax will break off on its own accord.

Is there an easy way to open wine with a screw cap that is proving to be resistant? It may seem simple but screw caps can actually be tough to open. The trick is to hold the two parts of the cap, top and bottom, and twist both at the same time. You will hear it crack open. Hold the bottle steady with your other hand.

Not often seen, glass stoppers, known as Vinolok, have a thin ring of rubber between stopper and bottle creating a seal. You can separate stopper and bottle by pushing upwards with two thumbs, but I usually lever it off using a blunt table knife.