What to Do if Your Wine Cork Breaks
It’s probably not the first time you’ve opened a bottle of wine and broken the cork in half. You might be wondering, is it better to try to remove it again with the bottle opener or push it inwards? Read on, because in this article we’ll let you in on what to do if your wine cork breaks and why it happens.
Why wine cork breaks
There are several reasons why the cork breaks when you open a bottle of wine. Also, keep in mind that if the cork breaks, it doesn’t always mean the wine is bad.
The cork needs to stay hydrated and in contact with the wine, so the way you store it at home is important, especially if it’s a quality bottle. The right thing to do is to keep it in a horizontal position, so that the liquid touches the cork. Also, if you think about classic wineries, they’re usually dark and humid cellars. When stored in these conditions, the cork doesn’t dry out and the wine’s nuances, aromas and flavours stay intact.
Storing your bottles vertically can cause the cork to dry out and alter its structure, making the wine oxidise earlier. This will also make it more likely to end up spoiling. Keep in mind that not all corks are created equally. While that may seem like a lie, the quality, density and size of the cork also affect the wine it preserves.
Another reason that can affect the condition of the cork is mould, if the bottle has been kept somewhere that’s too damp. However, unless there are pores in the cork, this is unlikely to affect the wine. There are also certain moths and insects that live in cellars and can eat the cork.
On the other hand, the reason your cork breaks may be simply because you’ve not used the bottle opener properly. If you don’t screw it in far enough and if it’s not right in the middle, you run the risk of breaking it because of the way the pressure is applied. As such, you should also consider the shape of this utensil, since not all of them will do. It must be sharp and pointy enough to remove the cork cleanly.
The cork has broken, what now?
If the cork breaks, our first tip is to try to remove the remaining cork from different angles. As a last resort, push the cork in and strain and decant the wine before serving. If the wine is very old, you can even filter it directly into the glass to avoid losing more aromas by passing it from one container to another. What is certain is that you should remove the fragmented cork from the wine as soon as possible because it can degrade it.
Another expert trick is to have a two-pronged opener, also known as a butler’s thief corkscrew, on hand if you think the cork may break.
Sometimes the bottle opener is too bulky to fit into a bottle with the broken cork. In this case you can use a corkscrew, screwing it all the way down and pulling the remaining part in one go.
As you can see, the bottle opener is just as important as the way you store the wine to prevent it from breaking when you uncork it. Now you know that, you may want to know why we decant wine and when you should do it. Not all wines need to be decanted! Find out which ones!