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

Can I ask a restaurant to store my own bottle of wine there for a few weeks before I come in to drink it?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers advice for corkage and BYOB etiquette.

May 3, 2021

How long does it take a new vineyard to yield grapes?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how long it takes a grapevine to produce …

Apr 26, 2021

Which wines are “clean”? What does that even mean?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains that there are no "unclean" wines, and the term …

Apr 19, 2021

How many gallons of wine are in a ton of grapes?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how many barrels, gallons, cases and bottles of …

Apr 12, 2021

Does wine age the same under synthetic and natural corks?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the pros and cons of a variety of wine closures, …

Apr 5, 2021

Does Champagne age well?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains what happens to sparkling wine as it ages.

Mar 29, 2021