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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I was opening a screwcap-sealed bottle of wine, and instead of the cap separating from the rest of the capsule, the whole capsule came off! Should I be worried the seal was compromised? Or even tampered with?

—Rechelle, Eugene, Ore.

Dear Rechelle,

That’s an unusual thing to happen, but not entirely surprising. Screwcaps start off as one piece: a perforated capsule that, when twisted, is designed to separate the skirt from the threaded cap. In the bottling process, the capsule is forced on to the top of the bottle and then crimped at the neck to secure it.

It’s happened to me a couple of times where it seemed like something went wrong with the crimping process and the entire capsule came off.

More often, though, I’ve encountered stubborn perforations, and in these cases, it’s important to be sure that you’re using the correct technique for opening a screwcapped bottle (a lot of folks don’t, because it’s a little counterintuitive): Hold the skirt, or sleeve, of the capsule in place with one hand, and the base of the bottle in the other, but rather than twisting the capsule, twist the bottle counterclockwise; the seal should break pretty easily.

When the entire capsule comes off, it doesn’t necessarily mean the seal was compromised, but I would certainly taste the wine first before serving it.

—Dr. Vinny

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