How to open a bottle of wine: uncorking according to the rules of etiquette

Wine lovers perfectly know how important this simple action can be. At first glance it may seem to be simple, but actually, in order to be done properly, it must follow precise rules. Wine tasting is a real and proper ritual that goes through a precise series of steps: from the choice of the most appropriate wine for the occasion to the opening of the bottle, from the pouring of the wine to the inebriation of every olfactory and visual sensation it releases. Therefore, knowing how to open a bottle of wine is one of the most important steps that leads, in the end, to the triumph of taste that embraces and envelops the palate. Let’s see how to do it in the right way.

How to open a bottle of wine: the 6 golden rules

In case you want to know how to open a bottle of red or white wine, in order not to turn the winetasting into a terrible disappointment, it is enough to follow some precise rules. With a little bit of simple shrewdness it is possible to open a bottle of wine in few simple steps, without feeling embarrassed, not breaking the cork and always knowing how to remove the capsula. Let’s see the steps.

The corkscrew: always use the one with the knife

In order to know how to open a bottle of wine, whether it is a fine Amarone della Valpolicella, or a refined Recioto della Valpolicella, there is no need to be a sommelier. The first step consists in always having the right tools for the purpose. Let’s start with the corkscrew, which must be the one with an integrated knife, spiral and lever. Moreover, double lever corkscrews make the whole process much easier.

Wine bottle capsule: cut and remove

Before inserting the spiral of the corkscrew in the cork, it is necessary to remove the capsule which wraps the upper part of the neck of the bottle. Many capsules have a special tab to be pulled in order to remove the protection. In case this tab is missing, this is the right moment to use the little knife included in the corkscrew. It is enough to cut the capsule at the level of the baga, that is the rib on the neck of the bottle. The cut must be done clockwise at the first step and counterclockwise at the second step. The double cut ensures the capsule is engraved in a decisive and clean way. Lastly, a further vertical incision is needed and it must start from the height of the baga and go up to the top of the bottle. Once the incisions are completed, it is possible to use the tip of the knife to lift the upper part of the foil and to remove it completely. The rest of the capsule, instead, remains glued to the bottle.

Come aprire una bottiglia di vino

Clean the cap

It is not a step that is always done, even though it would be better to include it in the steps to be done on how to open a bottle of wine. Once the capsule has been removed, the upper part of the cork is cleaned in order to remove any dust or mold, if any. Cleaning is done with a napkin, which in technical jargon is called “torciolo“.

Insert the spiral of the corkscrew

At this point the knife of the corkscrew must be closed and the spiral must be opened instead. The tip of the spiral must be inserted in the center of the cork. The bottle of wine must be firmly held while the spiral is being screwed in a clockwise direction. This is a delicate phase where it is necessary to pay attention not to pierce the cork. In fact, it should be remembered the function of the cork is also to prevent oxygen from filtering into the bottle, thus causing the oxidation of wine. To avoid damaging the cork, it is enough to stop the rotation of the spiral before the last turn.


At this point, the short lever of the corkscrew must be placed on the mouth of the bottle and it is necessary to start pulling. It should be remembered wine corks are not all the same, therefore their length, thickness and shape will require different strengths according to the model to be pulled out. At the end of the stroke it is also necessary to use the long lever of the corkscrew. The bottle must always be kept in a vertical position and one hand must be placed under the neck, whereas the other hand goes directly to hold the corkscrew. As soon as the cork will start resisting less, it is possible to finish the extraction by making a slight rotation. The final rotation avoids noises when opening the cork, which are always not very elegant to hear. The cork must never be touched with hands.

Smell the cap

Once the cork is extracted, it must be smelt. Smelling the cork is useful to realize whether the content of the bottle of wine is still good, or it has some defects. A defective cork, for example, can be recognized by its strong pungent and unpleasing smell.

Clean the inside of the bottle neck

We arrived at the end of the steps of how to open a bottle of wine. The last step requires the cleaning of the whole neck of the bottle from any possible residual. Cleaning must be done before pouring the first taste of wine. At this point it is possible to proceed with the pouring of wine, always remembering to serve before all the ladies present around the table.