Wine Talk

Snooth User: EMark

GRIPE ALERT: What's the Deal with Those Stupid Wax Capsules

Posted by EMark, Apr 20, 2014.

These things are, I suppose, pretty, but what a pain they become when you want to open a bottle of wine.

I have yet to figure out how to elegantly get rid of them so that I can get to the cork.  So, I am being inelegant.  It is difficult if not impossible to cut through them with the silly blade on most corkscrews.  The foil cutter gadget does a little better.  In both cases you have little crumbled pieces of wax dropping all over the kitchen.  In the case of the foil cutter you have pieces of wax jammed in and around its cutting wheels.  You can drill through it with your corkscrew and pull it out, but, again, you have little pieces of wax falling everywhere, and also, you then still can have pieces of wax stuck on the lip of the bottle opening that you have to tidy up or risk having wine being redirected when it's poured.

I wish I could find one of these on a restaurant wine list so I can see how they handle it without getting was pieces everywhere.

I'm sure is a cachet thing that some wineries are trying, but I think it's an affectation that I can do without.  Give me the metal foil.  Better yet, it seems that more and more producers are not putting any kind of capsule on at all.  That seems OK with me.


Reply by outthere, Apr 20, 2014.

Push the corkscrew right through the wax and pull the cork like it wasn't there in the first place. On some French and Italian wines the wax can be hard as a rock. In those cases run tip of the bottle under hot water for a minute and the wax will soften sufficiently to push the auger of the corkscrew right through it. Don't try to make it more difficult than it has to be. The wax breaks around the neck of the bottle perfectly.

Reply by EMark, Apr 20, 2014.

I've tried that and have yet to find one that "breaks perfectly."

OK, I really haven't tried the run-it-under-hot-water-for-a-minute idea.  That does sound like a reasonable idea.  I'll try it next time.


Reply by GregT, Apr 20, 2014.

Hot water or just put it over the burner on your stove for a few seconds. Even when the wax is really hard, if you roll it over the burner for about a half a minute you can usually cut it with the corkscrew just like you would a regular capsule. I don't like trying to pull a cork through the wax because the worm on the corkscrew is already too short most of the time and you lose another few millimeters sitting it on top of the wax.

And while you're rolling it around over the burner or under the hot water, are you rolling around the sediment  you ask? Why of course you are, you silly. That's another reason winemakers put those things on the bottles - to make sure you enjoy all the wine has to offer!

Best solution is to remove those on receiving the wine, before storage.Typically if I'm opening a bottle with wax on it, the wine is 30 years old or so and the wax is dry and hard. 

I don't believe there is ANY reason for wine producers in CA to use those capsules. However, in Rioja, Maria Jose said they use them to prevent infiltration by cork worms. I never heard that before and if it's true, I'll accept it. But nobody in the US keeps wines like they do.

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