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 recently opened a Chardonnay which had some sort of melted wax or plastic covering the cork instead of foil. What is an easy way to get this abomination off of the bottle?
—James M., Rome, Ga.
I think that if you switch your focus from “How do I get the wax off of the bottle?” to “How do I open this bottle?,” things might go a little more smoothly. Some wax capsules are very brittle and would need to be chipped or melted away, while other capsules are more soft and pliable. If your focus is just on removing the capsule, you might spend a lot of time whittling away at the wax before ever actually getting inside the bottle.
But if you just want to open your bottle of wine, the best thing you can do is pretend the wax isn’t there. Estimate where the center of the cork is through the wax, and put your waiter-style corkscrew through this point. (I don’t recommend that you use a lever-pull or “ah-so” corkscrew in this situation.) Before you make the final tug to get the cork out, brush off any stray bits of wax so they don’t fall into the bottle.
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