How to Open an Older Bottle of Wine

July 20, 2021

Now that you have acquired an older wine, often referred to as a library wine, you might be asking, “How do I open this without making a mess of the cork?”—or—“What’s the best way to serve this wine once opened?”

How to open old wine bottles

First, the basics—it’s natural that a cork will soften with age. It’s also natural that a wine may develop some sediment as it ages. Well fear not, with the proper tools and technique, you shouldn’t have too much difficulty.

Let’s go through the steps.

1) First, store your bottle in an upright position several days prior to opening, preferably in a cool location. Doing so will allow any suspended sediment to settle at the bottom of the bottle.

2) Next, choose the cork extractor you prefer—here are our recommendations:

  • Best – The Durand is a two-pronged wine opener—also known as an “Ah-So”—but with a built-in corkscrew. This is not an inexpensive item, but if you open a lot of older wines it could be a nice addition to your cellar.
  • Good – A standard two-pronged cork puller is also known as an “Ah-So.” Gently insert the longer tip between the glass and the cork, and gently rock back and forth until it is fully inserted in the bottle. Then slowly twist—while pulling up at same time.
  • Good – A pressurized cork extractor (like Cork Pops) is a device comprised of a needle and a carbon dioxide cartridge. Center the needle in the cork and penetrate it all the way through, then press the cartridge until the cork extracts. Hint: It’s best to cover the neck of bottle with a napkin or paper towel, as sometimes a bit of wine and/or sediment can also be extracted when under pressure.
  • OK – A corkscrew with a long, grooved shaft will make extracting an older, soft cork easier than using a shorter corkscrew without the grooving. Make sure it is centered directly in the cork, then twist it well into the cork. Be sure to pull up slowly.
  • If none of these methods work for you, as a last, last resort, find a blunt instrument that is narrower that the cork. Put the bottle in a sink and then place a plastic bag (or something similar) over the bottle neck. Then slowly and carefully push the cork down until it is no longer blocking the neck of the bottle. Hint: You definitely want something covering the opening of the bottle—as the wine will have a tendency to push upwards and out as the cork is pushed down.

Trilogy Library Wines

3) Now that you have the cork out, you are ready to serve your wine.

  • Best – Carefully and slowly pour the wine into a decanter. Once you start to see sediment, stop pouring.
  • OK – If you don’t have a decanter, line up your wine glasses on a counter. Take a glass in one hand, and carefully pour the wine with the other hand. Be sure to keep the neck of the bottle in the same position, and fill the next glass…and so on. Hint: You want to minimize turning the bottle upright as doing so will disturb the sediment that has settled into the bottom of the bottle.

4) Maybe you didn’t have time to let the bottle sit upright for a few days, or perhaps you see pieces of cork floating in the bottle. As a last, last resort, you can pour the wine through a fine screen or coffee filter to a decanter, or even a pitcher. If you don’t want to serve from that vessel, you can always rinse out the wine bottle well, and pour the now-filtered wine back into it.

5) Remember, most older wines only require decanting to ensure that the wine is clear—not to allow the wine to “open up” or “breathe.” Library wines do not need more oxygen at this point.

6) Also, we recommend you serve and drink the wine soon after opening. The older the bottle, the sooner you will want to drink it to retain as much fruit expression as possible.

Cheers!

How to open a library wine

Maximilian Riedel Features our 1991 Napa Valley Cabernet

December 20, 2020

Thank you to Maximilian Riedel, 11th generation glassmaker at the world-renowned Riedel Wine Glass Company, for sharing his experience of opening and tasting our 1991 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with his 88,000 Instagram followers:

“..what a joy. The wine has been in my cellar for a very long time…look at that color, fun. Cheers!”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Maximilian Riedel (@maxiriedel)

Join Us for National Library Week: Libraries Transform

April 8, 2018

First observed in 1958, National Library Week is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.

This year, National Library Week will be observed April 8-15, with the theme “Libraries Transform.”

Nat Komes, third generation family member and Flora Springs General Manager, has a particular affinity for libraries, as his mother worked as a librarian when he was growing up. Nat developed a great love of reading, which continues to this day, and which he is sharing with his own children now. In fact, after spending time at the library reading to them, Nat has found inspiration for several of his wine projects.

We will be celebrating National Library Week by opening our wine library throughout the week. Library wines are older, unique, and rare wines that have been purposefully stored to age. Like libraries transform minds, the aging process transforms wine – often in unexpected and delightful ways.

Stay tuned as we will be releasing select library wines, available exclusively online.

Join us at The Room or The Estate for our limited-time Libraries Transform tasting experience and discover for yourself how age has transformed three select vintages of Trilogy.

Both The Room and The Estate, located at 1978 West Zinfandel Lane in St. Helena, are open 10 am to 5 pm seven days a week. Reservations are required to visit The Estate. Additional tasting fees for the library wines may apply.

You can also join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – and follow along with hashtags #NationalLibraryWeek and #LibrariesTransform.

For more information, contact The Room at theroom@florasprings.com or (866) 967-8032, or The Estate at theestate@florasprings.com or (707) 967-6723.

Join Us for National Library Week: Libraries Transform

April 8, 2017

First observed in 1958, National Library Week is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.

This year, National Library Week will be observed April 9-15, with the theme “Libraries Transform.”

Nat Komes, third generation family member and Flora Springs General Manager, has a particular affinity for libraries, as his mother worked as a librarian when he was growing up. Nat developed a great love of reading, which continues to this day, and which he is sharing with his own children now. In fact, after spending time at the library reading to them, Nat has found inspiration for several of his wine projects.

We will be celebrating National Library Week, as well as the 40th anniversary of the winery, by opening our wine library April 8 – 15. Library wines are older, unique, and rare wines that have been purposefully stored to age. Like libraries transform minds, the aging process transforms wine – often in unexpected and delightful ways.

Stay tuned as we will be releasing select library wines, available exclusively online.

Join us at The Room or The Estate for our limited-time Libraries Transform tasting experience and discover for yourself how age has transformed the 1989, 1995, and 2011 vintages of Trilogy.

We will also be celebrating with live music at The Room, located at 677 St. Helena Highway in St. Helena, on April 8th and April 15th. Both The Room and The Estate, located at 1978 West Zinfandel Lane in St. Helena, are open 10 am to 5 pm seven days a week. Reservations are required to visit The Estate. Additional tasting fees for the library wines may apply.

You can also join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – and follow along with hashtags #NationalLibraryWeek and #LibrariesTransform.

For more information, contact The Room at theroom@florasprings.com or (866) 967-8032, or The Estate at theestate@florasprings.com or (707) 967-6723.

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