Wine Talk

Snooth User: jamessulis

Taking the top off of your wine bottle

Posted by jamessulis, Feb 10, 2014.

Saw this method in a commercial on the internet and decided to try it.

Normally, I slice the top foil to get to the cork then extract the cork. However on this commercial I saw a guy grip the entire upper wrapped portion, twist it and the entire foil sleeve came right off. I decided to try it and viola' it worked, I was pleasantly pleased. Then............the next bottle I tried the same procedure and it didn't budge. Back to using my knife to cut the top foil off to extract the cork but......not before trying to twist the entire portion off. Just sayin, you learn something new every day.

Lefty - The Great Pacific Northwest 


Reply by outthere, Feb 10, 2014.

Only works if the capsule is loose and made of foil. Plastic capsules tend to not want to budge.

Reply by jamessulis, Feb 10, 2014.

What made me think you would know this? Your past performances.



Reply by outthere, Feb 10, 2014.


Reply by GregT, Feb 11, 2014.

Yep. Plastic capsules don't come off as easily. And Lefty - it you try taking a lot of them off that way at once, it actually becomes cumbersome and it's easier to simply slice up the side of the capsule and remove it.

In case anyone cares (I don't) removing the entire capsule is actually considered gauche. Jacques Pepin has called it rude. I don't know about that, but it's generally considered a hillbilly move, maybe just a step above drilling directly through the capsule to remove the cork.

There is an etiquette for everything and removing wine closures is not exception.

The "correct" thing to do is to cut around the top, not to remove the whole capsule, at least if you're serving the wine from the bottle and not from a decanter. And when you cut, you don't cut at the top of the flange, cut right below it so that drips of wine don't get stuck in there and pour into someone's glass.

I don't lose a lot of sleep over this and hope nobody else does either, just thought I'd put it out there.

In any event, if I pour at a big tasting, I just cut up the side of the capsules and remove a few dozen all at once.

Reply by jamessulis, Feb 11, 2014.

GREGT: I'm all for proper wine techniques and do not want to appear gauche. (As I step out of my trailer and look for a rock to smash my wine top open) As far as Jacques Pepin is concerned, isn't he a large part of the past? I prefer to listen to Pee Wee Herman when it comes to being proper. If I can twist it off completely, that's my thrill for the day and look at it this way, I can slip it back on so the wife doesn't know I've been hitting the bottle again LOL.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and all of your input is always so informative. Thank You



Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 11, 2014.

I discovered that trick a while back, and then I noticed that GdP was doing it.  Sometimes works with plastic, but not often, and never with Stelvins. 

But talk about a stupid tradition, leaving part of the foil on!  Back in the day when they were actually made with lead, wine could drip on the capsule and then into the glass.  Really, what point does that serve? 

Frankly, I've never mastered cutting around the neck with the knife on my corkscrews (I use Pulltaps-type double hinged about 90% of the time), so I usually slice up and pull the whole thing off.  I have a couple foil cutters that work pretty well, but capsules in general just seem pointless. Oddly, they have assisted counterfeiters who cannot come up with authentic corks by obscuring the printing on the cork.  Elsewhere in the forum it's been pointed out that they don't play a role in preserving the cork, either.  Finally some wineries are shipping without, but I suspect the main use these days is to print your name on them or use a signature color to help differentiate you bottle and to meet consumer expectations.

Reply by GregT, Feb 11, 2014.

Lefty - instead of a rock, can't you just slam the door on the neck of the bottle?

Jacques Pepin is NOT of the past. He's getting on in years but man I'd rather watch him than any of the other "chefs" on the various food networks. Most of them creep me out. Jacques is and always has been a class act. He's forgotten more than most of the celebrity chefs have ever learned. He is old-school, that's quite true, but that's part of what I like about him - he's not trying to show anyone how cool he is.

I about fell off my chair the first time I heard him state that it was considered "rude" to pull off the whole capsule and I had to ask some sommelier friends. One guy actually had written a book for somms - they all told me the same thing - you don't remove the capsule.

"WTF", I thought to myself. "I'm going to serve my wine any way I want to."

I still do and matter of fact, just ripped a capsule off the bottle I'm drinking right now. Besides, as Fox said, why would you want to leave some of the foil on? The only answer I was able to find was because that was part of the whole package. Cripes!

Reply by EMark, Feb 12, 2014.

In her previous life Mrs. EMark had the opportunity to meet/work with various chefs.  While she was at Cal Poly, Jacques Pepin visited and spent a day as a guest lecturer.  (I knew this was happening, but I didn't realize until afterward that I was pretty lucky that my wife came home that night.  I guess Jacques is quite a charmer.)  She shared this story with me.

As a part of the instruction Pepin asked the students if it was proper to wash mushrooms.  

"Oh, no, never," one of the them blurted.  "You wipe them with a towel."

"Of course you wash them," Pepin responded.  ""Do you know where they grow these things?"

I thought that was pretty funny.


I usually use a cutter on the capsules, but on lead ones (pre 1989?) I not only pull them off, completely, I rinse the top of the bottle under the faucet.  Probably silly, and, obviously, becoming less of an issue every year.

Reply by GregT, Feb 12, 2014.

Great response from Pepin!

I just watched him last night actually and he washed his mushrooms. I do it all the time, regardless of what other people suggest, but I did notice that if you do it too early, they start to get soggy. Well guess what? He said to wash them, but always at the last minute so they don't get soggy.

He's just excellent. If you ever got to see that last series he did with Julia Child when she was really fading, he was so gracious to her and really went out of his way to make her look good. He said one time that if it wasn't for her, "none of us would be here", meaning the celebrity chef types, because it was Julia Child that got people interested in cooking again after the 1940s and 50s and early 60s had taught Americans to eat out of cans and frozen containers. I don't know if that's true, but he wasn't at all arrogant about actually being a chef, whereas Julia never was.

More recently there was some restaurant where the chef decided what you eat and how. So he'd refuse to put salt at the table, etc. I can't remember all the specifics but somehow somebody asked Pepin about it and he said he thought it was arrogant and improper. "The customer is the one paying," he said. I loved him for that too.

e-mark - your wife is lucky!

Oh, and she should have reminded him that some mushrooms grow on logs and on trees!! Of course, they're probably covered with wolf-pee, so I guess you should wash those too.

Reply by EMark, Feb 12, 2014.

Well, Greg, I am the lucky one.  We were out to lunch today and she reiterated that she really enjoys retirement.  No argument from me on that one.

I remember the Jacques and Julia program.  It seems that there was quite a bit of bantering going on, there.  I also seem to recall that Julia would add extra butter to just about every recipe, and Jacques wanted to add extra garlic.  Between the two of them I was drooling over every recipe.


Reply by victor owens, Feb 13, 2014.

I have not read all the threads above but if i repeat i apologize.  This is a standard bartender trick.  When working behind the bar and you are pouring lots of wine for many servers you learn quick that the tops of certain wine bottles slide right off and you can dive right into the cork.  But when bottle service is being performed table side it is a big no no!  Traditional knife cutting is order.  This is a service industry insight.  

Victor Owens

Reply by zufrieden, Feb 13, 2014.

Love the aesthetic feel of this discussion.  When serving in a private setting, the paring knife does not tend to cut along that ribbed region of the bottle neck as prescribed by etiquette; rather, the entire capsule is removed (crude, but simple and effective).

However, being reminded of the proper protocol taught me by my French buddy those too many years ago, I have reprised the correct method with a modest bottle of Bordeaux Superieur.

Form is important.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 14, 2014.

I confess, I am terrible at cutting the foil. I'm pretty sure all my corkscrews have knives that only work for right handers. Pretty sure this means I can never be a somm. 

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