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.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I have been buying screw-top bottles of wine when we travel. Is there a good way to open them? Seldom can we open them by twisting them, and my husband is strong. I have to take a mini screwdriver and cut out the fasteners which is timely, not professional, and dangerous. I cut myself on the jagged edges. Please advise and thank you.

—Nancy, DeKalb, Ill.

Dear Nancy,

I’ve opened my share of twist-offs, and you’re right that sometimes the perforation between the cap and the skirt (or, top and bottom) of the twist-off doesn’t seem to be perforated enough, and can be stubborn to open.

I have two methods of opening twist-offs that tend to work for me. The first is to grab the bottle itself with one hand, and with the other grab the cap (only), and try to twist the top. The other way is to grab the bottle with one hand and with the other hand grab the skirt (only) and twist that way. If you’re following along, you realize that what I’m getting at is that you shouldn’t try to twist by holding on to the bottom of the twist-off with one hand and the top of the twist-off with the other. If you are, you could be working against yourself, and no matter how strong your husband is, physics can get in the way. The twist-off needs to be able to move so it can crack that seal.

If all of this is too complicated, there are a couple products on the market to help open twist-offs, and they are in the $10 to $20 range. I’ve not tried them myself (and I’m not a paid spokesperson, for some reason), but if you search for “wine screw-cap openers”, you’ll see what’s available. They all seem to offer a grippy surface, and some provide torque to help with the motion.

—Dr. Vinny


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