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Collecting Q&A: Removing a Crumbling Cork

Peter D. Meltzer
Posted: April 12, 2007

Q: How do you remove a cork from an older bottle of wine if the cork crumbles? Does this mean that the wine has gone bad as well?

A: Corks have a shelf life, and many start to deteriorate after 20 to 25 years, but that does not necessarily mean that the wine itself has spoiled. Some collectors have their bottles re-corked and topped off by the winery after two decades or so, but there has been a movement away from the practice, to maintain bottle integrity. If the cork crumbles, reinsert the corkscrew at an angle and try again. If this doesn't work, gently push the cork into the bottle. If that fails, make a small hole in the cork with the worm or helix of the corkscrew. Using a sieve or a wine funnel lined with cheesecloth, pour the wine into a decanter or wineglass.

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