How To Open a Mature Bottle of Wine
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How To Open a Mature Bottle of Wine

How you store your wine can impact how you should open the bottle
Read Time: 3 minutes
Jun 16, 2023

There are several different ways to open a bottle of wine and which one is best depends on the age of the wine, how it has been stored over the years, and the kind of wine it is. Corks can decay from heat and light exposure, so it’s important to assess the likelihood that your cork may not be fully functioning after so many years. We’ll help you to understand how exactly to open a mature bottle of wine and the different kinds of corkscrews to use.

Ask yourself the following questions to determine how you should open the bottle of wine.

How Has the Wine Bottle Been Sitting?

a glass of wine

As your wine ages, sediment will start to settle out of the wine, a process known to wine experts as “throwing sediment.” Where the sediment has fallen can affect how you should open the bottle of wine. This means that how you have stored your wine can play a large role in which method you should use.

Vertically

If your wine bottle of been standing up for some time, the sediment will have fallen to the bottom of the wine bottle. While vertical wine storage isn’t necessarily the preferred method due to how it can impact the cork, it also means that you should be able to just open the wine bottle normally.

Horizontally

If the wine bottle has been laying down horizontally, the sediment will have started collecting on the side of the bottle instead of the bottom. Keeping wine bottles horizontal may help protect the cork but it can mean that the sediment will mix in with the wine when you pour. You’ll need to first tilt the bottle vertically before you open it so that the sediment can settle to the bottom of the bottle and then filter the wine through a mesh strainer when you open in.

Is the Cork Decaying?

If notice that your cork is decaying, it’s important to determine if the wine itself has gone bad. A decayed cork doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t drink the wine, however. There are other common reasons that can cause a decaying cork. Oftentimes, the wine will still be good to drink if you can pinpoint another possible cause of the cork’s breakdown.

What Causes a Decaying Cork?

Usually, a wine bottle that not stored on its side will have a decaying cork because the cork can dry out if it’s not in constant contact with the wine inside. It could also be the case that the cork was faulty or the manufacturers did not correctly place the cork. A decaying cork can also be caused by exposure to UV light due to oxidation, which could spoil the wine. Some other causes of a decaying cork include too much heat, dry storage conditions, or the type and shape of the cork.

holding a bottle of cakebread

Different Methods of Opening

There are several different methods for opening mature wine bottles. You may already be familiar with the traditional corkscrew method but the Ah So method is another option that may be ideal for opening wine bottles with particularly damaged corks.

Ah So

The Ah So opener has two prongs instead of just the usual one. This wine opener was designed to pull out crumbly old corks or corks that are harder to reach. The two prongs are able to reach in more gently instead of creating a spiral in a cork like a traditional corkscrew. This is a great option if the cork in your mature wine bottle has begun to decay during its storage period.

Traditional Corkscrew

A traditional corkscrew uses the classic twisting method of opening. This is the go-to method for most people, as traditional corkscrews are the most commonly sold wine bottle openers. This opener usually works best for newer bottles of wine that have their corks still intact but it could work just as well for a mature bottle if the cork is not too decayed or if it isn’t crumbling into the bottle.

Enjoy Your Mature Wine With the Right Tools

bottles of l'ecole ans cakebread cellars

Having the right tools is essential for opening a mature bottle of wine correctly. Luckily, once you understand the differences between the opening methods and the cause of any decaying corks, you’ll soon be on your way to enjoying a variety of well-aged wines and delicious food that pairs well with them.

To try a variety of wines without having to worry about storing them or opening them yourself, check out Christner’s extensive wine list. Our expert sommelier can help guide you to the best wine for you and our servers are happy to recommend a meal that will pair well with your choice of wine.

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