wine or Port is usually stored for many years. The preferred
method is to store the bottles laid down, so that the cork does not
. A dry cork would allow air to enter the
bottle, and oxidize
its precious contents.
A bottle that has been aged for many years usually has a cork that
is "glued" to the neck of the bottle. The cork will be
extremely difficult to remove, and care has to be taken that the
sediments in the bottle are not disturbed. Also, the cork can
break easily, allowing pieces of cork to fall into the bottle.
A traditional way to open vintage bottles is by "tonging",
snapping the neck of the bottle right below the cork, using a set of
- A set of dedicated bottle tongs. These may be hard to get. You
probably have to order these from some specialty store. However, if
you're serious about guzzling down a 1966 Sandeman Founders Reserve,
you better have the right tools at hand.
- A gas burner. A candle won't give you enough heat, and will also
give you messy soot on the tongs.
- A decanter
- A candle (used during decanting)
- Your finest Nectar of the Gods
- Remove the bottle from storage, and place it upright for at least 24
hours. This will allow all the sediments to settle. Before opening, the
bottle should be at drinking temperature.
- Heat the circle shaped part of the tongs in the burner until red
hot. The entire ring should be well heated.
- Carefully place the tongs around the neck of the standing bottle,
right below the cork. Hold the tongs in place for a few minutes.
- Remove the tongs, and immediately pass some ice around the
heated area of the bottle neck. The glass will break with a clicking
sound. Continue passing the ice around the neck for a few more
- Carefully release the snapped of neck of the bottle. This should
be done without any resistance from the bottle.
- If the bottle neck did not snap off completely, reheat the tongs and
repeat the procedure
- Pour the wine slowly and carefully into the decanter. This
should be done against the light of a candle. As soon as the pour
becomes cloudy, stop the decanting immediately.
Try this method first on a $4 Chateau Migraine before performing it
on the real deal.
Feel free to invite me for the wine tasting!
http://www.sandeman.com/port.html has more information