How to Avoid Breaking the Cork

Broken cork stuck in wine bottle - how to avoid breaking the wine cork

How to Avoid Breaking the Wine Cork (and What to Do if It Falls In)

We’ve all been there. You open a bottle of wine, and oops – the cork breaks. Here’s how to avoid breaking the wine cork and ensure your wine isn’t tainted! 

First, don’t beat yourself up when this happens. Even sommeliers break a cork or two every once in a while. It’s honestly not a big deal. 

Whether you’re hosting a party or you simply want to conquer your fear of opening a wine bottle, scroll down to learn how to avoid breaking the cork and how you can save your wine if the cork falls in.

how to avoid breaking the wine cork

Before You Open the Bottle

Here’s what you can do to help ensure that the cork will remain intact before you even think about pouring a glass.

First, store wine bottles horizontally before you’re ready to open them. This will prevent the cork from drying out. A dry cork can quickly turn into a crumbly cork. 

Next, make sure your corkscrew is in good working order. Wine experts recommend using a “waiter’s friend” double lever corkscrew because it’s the easiest to use – but feel free to use whatever you’re comfortable with.

Whatever your preference, examine the “worm” – that’s the curly part that goes into the cork. If it’s bent, it’s time to replace your corkscrew. 

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how to avoid breaking the wine cork

Opening the Bottle like a Pro

When you’re ready to open the bottle, here’s what to do:

  1. Step one: Breathe. Remember, you’ve got this! 
  2. Next, place the bottle on a flat surface and cut the foil below the lower lip. Mind your fingers as you do this! 
  3. After you remove the foil, line up the “worm” of the corkscrew with the center of the cork. 
  4. Turn the corkscrew until only one loop of the worm is visible – usually, this will be about 6 rotations. 
  5. Then, lever the cork out. Using a double lever corkscrew, you may need to do this action twice to get the cork all the way out. If you’re using a winged corkscrew, press the wings down and pull it out from the handle on top. 
  6. Finally, wipe down the rim of the bottle with a cloth or napkin to remove any sediment. 
  7. Pour out and enjoy! 

If only the top half of the cork comes out, you can simply repeat the process (steps 3 – 5) to get the remaining cork out, and no one will know. 

A damaged cork still stuck inside a bottle of wine from someone incorrectly trying to open a bottle of wine.

What to do if the Cork Falls in 

Sometimes, bits of the cork may fall in and go swimming in your wine. No judgment – it happens! 

The good news is that when there are bits of cork floating in your wine, you can still drink it. All you have to do is get the cork out. 

How do you do that?

Pour the wine through a sieve or cheesecloth either directly into each glass or into a pitcher. And voilà – your wine is good as new! 

In Vino Finito

If you really want to impress your friends, practice the Veronese cork trick by leaving a bit of the foil intact, creating a handy spot to store the cork. 

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Bright Cellars

Our staff is full of passionate wine lovers. With our amazing sommeliers at the helm, we’ve been schooled on all things wine. We came together to write this article, in hopes of spreading a little wine-ducation with you.

2 Comments
  1. Well, OK, I really wanted to know the answer to this since it just happened to us the other day, but all I’m getting is a picture of a broken cork.

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