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've been opening wine for a long time now. I don't ever remove the foil first, and have never had an issue with that. One night, my boyfriend brought over a bottle of wine that had soured, and when I removed the cork, it crumbled. He told me that it was due to the fact that I did not remove the foil. The wine was indeed bad, and I know that was the true reason behind the issue with the cork. My question is: Why do we need to remove foil? Is it an etiquette issue?

—Valerie M., Alpharetta, Ga.

Dear Valerie,

It's not exactly an etiquette issue, but removing the foil is a good idea for a few reasons. First off, it gives you a clue if there's been any seepage, which could be a sign of the wine having been exposed to high temperatures (which may make it prematurely oxidized). Secondly, metal foils can be sharp! I've cut myself on them many times, and if you open the bottle through the foil, it leaves lots of pointy bits. And thirdly, yes, sometimes it can get in the way of pulling a cork. Not removing the foil first won't turn a perfectly healthy cork into sawdust, but it can make a compromised cork trickier to extract if you're trying to force it through a layer of metal or plastic. In any case, you'll probably do a better job of opening a bottle if you can see clearly what you're doing.

—Dr. Vinny


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