ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

My wine bottles in my wine cellar have begun to exhibit loose corks. That is, when I attempt to put a corkscrew in the cork, it actually gets pushed into the bottle because it is not as snug as would be expected. This is a recent phenomenon in my wine cellar and has been happening to all of the wines I have recently opened, without regard to vineyard or age of the bottle. Do you know what may be causing this situation?

—Richard R., Potomac Falls, Va.

Dear Richard,

I have a couple of theories. The first is about the condition of your cellar. If there’s not enough humidity, corks can dry out and shrink. For about $40, you can buy a hygrometer that will measure the humidity, which ideally should be at about 70 percent.

But I’ve generally seen this happen only to older bottles of wine. So my other theory is that there may be something wrong with whatever you’re using to open your bottles. If the worm—the spiral part of your corkscrew—is too dull or too thick, it won’t be able to pierce through the cork effectively, and instead any pressure that’s applied to it will just push the cork further into the bottle.

—Dr. Vinny


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