Somebody asked Vinny the other day how to open a screwcapped wine bottle when the screwcap won't loosen easily. Dr. Vinifera, the ever helpful super mouse, or whatever he is, suggested a device that functions like one of those jar-lid removers.
There's an easier way, and cheaper. I'll get to that a little further on.
I thought about Vinny's advice as I looked across the table at the wines I had to taste one day this week. It was a flight of about 20 Australian Rieslings. Every single one of them had the telltale spiral on their lips. They were all bottled under screwcaps.
A smile sneaked across my face, a grin of relief. There would be no wines today spoiled by the reek of cork taint, not even bottles that raised a question of it. I would not have to parse out whether that touch of earthiness I caught in the background was the wine or the cork. For this wine taster, a sea of screwcaps is a glimpse of heaven.
There was even a Riesling from the 2000 vintage in the tasting. It had developed some wonderful marmalade and toast overtones from aging, but it still had a refreshing zing of freshness. Bless those screwcaps.
And you don't really need a jar opener to get a twist-off open, not even if it sticks. No, you don't turn the wine bottle over and tap the top on the table like you would a ketchup bottle. Here's the trick, taught to me by New Zealand winemaker Michael Brajkovich of Kumeu River winery (a screwcap pioneer). It couldn't be easier:
Hold the bottle in your left hand by the neck, just under the cap. Grab the base of the bottle in your right hand and turn the bottle counterclockwise. The added torque you get by turning the bottle is usually enough to pop the seal on the cap. Then you can unscrew the cap easily. (Also, you won't cut your hand on the edge of the cap, which could happen in a rare instance.)
If you're left-handed, hold the bottle by the neck in your right hand, but you still have to turn the bottle counter-clockwise.
Works every time.
If you want to get really nerdy, you can do as waiters in New Zealand do. Once the cap is loosened, run the top of the bottle along your forearm, elbow to palm. The cap unscrews as it rolls across your arm, and drops into your palm.