What's the best way to open a screw-capped bottle of wine?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

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

Closures Screwcaps Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

Is it true that Madeira never goes bad? Why?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why Madeira is immune to many of the hazards of …

Jul 10, 2020

Can I keep a half-full bottle of wine and serve it a few weeks later?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how wine changes once the cork comes out of the …

Jul 8, 2020

In what ways do old and new wines smell and taste differently?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how wines change in flavor and aroma as they age.

Jul 6, 2020

Is it possible to “fix” cork-tainted wine with plastic wrap? How does that work?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains where cork taint comes from, and why PVC wrap …

Jul 3, 2020

If most vines are grafted onto rootstocks, why do some grapevines thrive in soils where others struggle?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny, with an assist from U.C. Davis' viticulture department, …

Jul 1, 2020

What does “buttery” mean when talking about Chardonnay?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains where "buttery" flavors come from in wine.

Jun 29, 2020