Seeing cork tear and crumble as you heave on the corkscrew is enough to bring an oath to the lips, the cork sometimes seems out to frustrate our primary goal – drinking the contents of the bottle. A horizontally stored bottle will keep a cork moist through contact with the wine – the cork’s integrity is retained and it should remain whole when removed.
Dried out corks can tear before they are entirely removed from the bottle neck. When this happens push the corkscrew back into the remains of the cork but at a shallow angle – as if you are trying to get the corkscrew through the cork and through the neck of the bottle. Then gently pull on the corkscrew so as not to create more cork crumb on the way.
Sometimes that last bit of cork doesn’t want to come out, so give up trying to remove it and push it into the bottle using your finger or the end of a pencil.
In his book How to enjoy your wine wine author Hugh Johnson describes a device called a claw – three bits of bent wire which can be used to hook bits of cork out of a bottle. Unfortunately I can’t find anyone who still sells this useful looking device, so why not get the grandchildren to bend bits of wire coat hanger and make you one.
Corks can still flummox us when we try and push them back to seal a half-finished bottle of wine – they either refuse to go in at all (more common with plastic corks) or break. If you don’t have an expandable rubber bottle sealer (readily available in packs of three from supermarkets) then cover the open bottle with a double layer of cling film secured in place with an elastic band. This will keep out the air and the flies until you finish the wine tomorrow. If your half empty bottle contains port wine you could always pour the remainder into the cut-glass decanter you’ve been meaning to use since last Christmas and continue that ‘pleasurable’ tradition of passing it to the left, or is it the right?
PG Wine Reviews
Asda Extra Special Italian Soave Classico 2014
When the wine smells like apples baked in their skins you can bet the taste will be equally as enjoyable – and it is with butter, lemons and nuts.
Terres de Galets French Côtes du Rhône 2014
£5.50 Sainsbury’s (down from £7 until May 17)
A light-bodied red that smells and tastes of cherry and violets.
Extra Special New Zealand Pinot Noir 2013
Leave this wine open for half anf hour before you drink it to reveal its underlying strawberry flavours.
Denbies Vineyard Select English Pinot Gris 2014
£16.95 Denbies Vineyard, Surrey (online or in person)
A delicate and creamy white wine with additional flavours of apple and biscuit. Nicely made.
Penfolds Australian Bin 8 Cabernet Shiraz 2013
Smooth blackcurrant flavours with a touch of spice – but watch out for the 14.5% alcohol.
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© Paula Goddard 2016 www.paulagoddard.com