Opening a bottle of wine like a professional sommelier is easy right? Wrong.
Even in the most prestigious of establishments in the UK, the art of opening a bottle of wine properly and traditionally seems to have died out. We think this is something that needs to change.
There are few things in the world more satisfying than buying a bottle of fine wine, and having it served to you by a true professional. Not only is this indicative of quality, but when you’re paying considerable sums for some of the best wines in the world, the pour is ever so important.
With this in mind, we have created the Octavian Vaults guide to opening a bottle of wine like a sommelier. Perfect if you are considering working in the trade or if, as a fine wine expert, you simply want to learn how to open your wines the way they should be.
This article is almost certain to get you serious kudos when you’re entertaining guests at wine tasting events, and a great skill you can pass on to your loved ones as well.
As is the case with any of the more satisfying things in life, opening wine like a professional sommelier takes time and practice but there are some tips that can help you to master this sooner rather than later. The best bit, is that you will probably need a fair few bottles of wine in order to practice effectively, which is of course never a bad thing.
Apart from obvious expertise, the most vital thing for a professional wine opener to consider is their equipment. Of course, every individual is different but some pieces of kit that often help a sommelier in their work are:
This is sometimes referred to as a Waiter’s Friend and is a two pronged cork puller, ideal for vintage bottles of wine such as those enjoyed by Octavian Vaults customers. An Ah-So is ideal when the cork has become old and brittle, and can help avert disasters whereby the rotten cork can destroy your fine, aged product.
Lever Pull Corkscrew
Some sommeliers on the other hand, prefer the more conventional lever-pull corkscrew. These are of course quicker and easier to use and can be perfectly acceptable for opening fine wine, but this will be dependent on age and the cork material. If you are looking to open a large number of bottles in a relatively short period of time, then this corkscrew may well be ideal for you.
The final alternative is of course, your standard old-fashioned corkscrew. These are still widely used across the globe and perfectly acceptable, as long as you have your technique spot on.
Finally, is the all-important technique. Your appearance and equipment are of course paramount, but this is the vital aspect of being a world class sommelier, and the part you will need to practice in order to perfect it.
Here is how we would recommend opening wine like a sommelier;
- Cut the wine bottle capsule just below the lip of the opening of the bottle
- Remove this carefully and gracefully, ensuring it all looks tidy and elegant
- Insert the “augur” of your selected corkscrew into the cork carefully but deeply, and twist gradually
- Anchor the lever on the bottle if using you waiters friend, on the lip with your grip
- Slowly and smoothly pull the cork until it is almost out, but not all the way
- Rock the cork gently the rest of the way so it leaves the bottle and makes that noise we all know and love
This is a tried and tested technique, but there is only so much you can learn about this from reading online. As mentioned you need to practice and you will develop your own little tips and tricks that allow you to open wine perfectly, with no mess and without adversely impacting its quality.
We suggest you look at some online videos of professional sommeliers opening fine wine, so you can see it in action as this will complement the above advice perfectly.
Finally, ensure you look the part. Sommeliers are there to discuss fine wine, open it perfectly and make individuals feel at home in the restaurant, winery or tasting event in question. Looking smart and sophisticated is a big part of this so don’t let your world class wine opening skills get let down by not looking great.
We hope these tips have helped you to get a good start on your quest to become a top sommelier. Feel free to take a look at some of the other fine wine guides here at the Octavian Vaults blog.