How to Open and Pour a Bottle of Wine
At Wine Insiders, we find some wine newbies underappreciate the importance of effectively opening and pouring their wine.
Eager to enjoy the bottle they’ve selected for the given meal or occasion, these uninitiated drinkers all too often compromise their vino, improperly serve their guests, or hamper their overall experience.
To help you avoid these classic mistakes, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to make the ultimate opening and pouring techniques too simple to avoid.
For our easy-to-follow tips on serving wine like a seasoned veteran, enjoy our introductory Guide to Opening and Pouring Wine:
The Importance of Properly Opening Wine
Understanding the difference between properly and improperly opened wine is a vital step toward vinicultural expertise.
Opening a wine bottle incorrectly can start your drinking experience off on entirely the wrong foot. It can delay the start of a special event, compromise an ideal food wine-pairing, or simply show you don’t know what you’re doing.
Conversely, correctly opening your bottle makes you look like a smooth professional and helps your wine express its best qualities, supporting the optimal drinking experience.
Wine Insiders Tip: For more tips on enjoying wine to the fullest, read our comprehensive guides on serving sizes, preservation and storage.
How to Open Wine
Now that you understand why it’s so critical to open wine correctly, let’s dive into our step-by-step guides for opening wine like a sommelier.
This section will focus on opening with a standard waiter’s corkscrew — arguably the most common type of wine opener — and without one:
With an Opener
The standard waiter’s corkscrew is the vino lover's ultimate tool.
Thanks to excellent craftsmanship, this handy, portable device allows you to safely open your bottle without harming you or your wine.
To use it properly, here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Use the Opener’s Blade to Cut and Remove the Foil
Cut slowly, starting near the neck-end of the foil. Be careful not to harm yourself.
- Line Up the Screw Directly above the Cork
Keep a firm grip on both the bottle and the opener.
- Gently Screw Clockwise into the Cork
Don’t feel the need to force the screw down to the very end of the cork.
- Attach the Opener’s Lever to the Lid of the Bottle
The lever is the final “step” (component) of the opener -- i.e., the non-corkscrew or
- Slowly Lift Up the Cork
Be careful not to pull too aggressively and risk damaging yourself or the bottle.
Without an Opener
Opening wine without an opener is not recommended, but it’s a common predicament practically all wine drinkers encounter at one point or another.
Using our experience and expertise, let’s break down two ways to safely open wine sans opener without compromising your vino:
The Toolbox Trick
This method requires a long screw, a screwdriver, and a hammer.
After removing any foil, carefully use the screwdriver to twist the long screw into your bottle’s cork. Make sure the screw is firmly in the cork, leaving ~one inch of it exposed.
Once you complete this step, use the back of your hammer to slowly but forcefully pull the cork from your bottle.
This method may sound counterintuitive, but it can work in a jam.
You’ll need a wooden spoon, or another long, thin and dull object, and a newer bottle of wine -- corks in older bottles tend to crumble with this technique.
After removing all foil from the cork, use your object to fully push the cork down into your bottle.
While not ideal, this will allow you to pour from your bottle of wine with the cork still inside.
Wine Insiders Tip: DON’T use even a remotely sharp object for this method. No bottle of vino is worth a trip to the emergency room.
The Importance of Properly Pouring Wine
Just like opening a bottle, pouring wine requires effort, care, and the proper technique.
After all, once you smoothly remove the cork from your bottle, the last thing you want to do is let down yourself or your guests with a weak, heavy, or messy pour.
Weak pours shortchange your guests, heavy pours over-serve them, and messy pours disrupt the ambiance of your event, leading to a panicked blur of paper towels, trash bags, and wasted vino.
How to Pour Wine
Without further adieu, let’s dive into the four easy steps for pouring your wine like a pro:
- Gather the Necessities
Before you can pour your wine, you’ll need your bottle, glasses and a napkin to wipe the spout (if you’re serving a group) and smoothly clean any accidental spillage.
- Understand the “Standard Pour”
This step may seem redundant for an experienced drinker, but it’s essential for all vino newbies:
When serving wine, you always want to use the “standard pour,” which allows 5 oz. of wine for each glass.
To consistently serve this amount, you’ll need to carefully pour into your glass until the wine reaches the largest area of its bowl -- which nearly always marks 5 oz. in volume.
Wine Insiders Tip: If you struggle with the standard pour, you can practice by pouring water into wine glasses to better understand the technique or purchase glasses with standard pour lines to assist you.
- Gently Pour into Each Glass
Holding your bottle firmly in one hand, purposefully pour into each glass until you reach the wide part of its bowl. Make sure to be direct here, as an overly slow or hesitant pour can lead to spills.
As you approach the end of the pour, rotate the bottom of the bottle away from you. This move will direct any spillage toward the back of the bottle, preventing any guests you may have from spotting a hint of mess.
If you’re serving multiple people, make sure to use your napkin to wipe the bottle’s spout between pours.
Wine Insiders: Open, Pour, and Drink the Best
Now that you know how to open and pour your favorite vino like a master sommelier, it’s time to explore Wine Insider’s world-class selection of exquisite varietals and blends:
From single bottles of Old and New World classics to exciting 6 and 12-bottle sets curated by vino experts like Martha Stewart, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Ludo Lefebvre, we have the wine you need to expand your palate and spruce up your collection in style.
If you’re looking to stay on the vinicultural cutting edge, feel free also to check out our new arrivals, customer favorites, award winners, and staff picks sections for first-rate, international wines at consistently affordable prices.
Last but not least, keep up with our expansive Wine 101 guides for more easy-to-follow tips on storage, pairing, serving and more!