Opening a bottle of Port with Port tongs

Wine geeks like rituals. We care about which glasses to use, which way to pass the bottle, decanting time or serving temperatures. We take these “necessary” steps to fully enjoy a bottle of wine on any occasion. Another ritual that you may also care about is how to open the bottle and which cork screw to use. For very old bottles which might have a wet cork that may not come out in a single piece, port tongs can make the whole difference.

How to use Port tongs? Instead of pulling out the cork, we directly remove the top of the neck. The video above will show you how to do it but basically, the tongs are heated (I prefer to use ember rather than the stove), then clamp the tongs around the neck of the bottle right above the line of the bottom of cork for 30 seconds and then put a cold wet towel (I sunk the towel in an ice bucket) around the neck in the same place. If the tongs were really hot this temperature change will cause the glass to break. Voilà, you made it. Time to decant the wine and enjoy it with your company. If you didn’t make it, try again and make sure the port tongs are red-hot before clamping them to the bottle!



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  1. Frank Sunday February 23rd, 2014 | reply
    Port Tongs, I have never heard of this method of opening a bottle of port or wine which has old corks
  2. Minstrel & Muse Thursday March 27th, 2014 | reply
    That was really cool--I've never heard of this method either.

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