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,

Regarding opening wine bottles through the foil, what about the contamination issue of pushing whatever particles that were on the surface through to the wine? Dieticians ask these kinds of food safety issues.

—Joan, Miami

Dear Joan,

Good wine etiquette and my own advice recommend removing the foil (and in particular, just the top part of the foil) before opening a bottle of wine. It makes it easier to extract the cork, and helps avoid any sharp edges of the foil. That said, I sometimes recommend that people just ignore wax seals when opening a bottle of wine, especially if they’re not able to cut away at it like a capsule.

If that’s the source of your concern regarding to contaminants, I don’t think you need to worry. After all, when you open a bottle of wine, you’re not really pushing anything into the bottle when you’re extracting the cork. After you twist the end of a corkscrew into a cork, the motion is going entirely in the other direction.

—Dr. Vinny


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