Opening a bottle of wine

I’m going to share a story about my early days in Food and Beverage , in particular learning to open wine. In the mid 80’s I attended Malaspina College in Nanaimo BC. At that time they offered a 2 year Hospitality Management Program. One of the classes required all students to participate in the operation of a full service restaurant called the Royal Arbutus Room. Students would take turns bartending, serving, helping cook the meals and other duties. One evening it was my turn to wait on tables. Up to that point I had been a behind the scenes person as my original plan was to be a chef. I was nervous, very nervous. We had a pretty cool wine list so there were many opportunities to practice opening bottles table side. We were taught that the label always faced the customer, how to cut the foil at the right spot, as well as pouring techniques etc. What I didn’t anticipate was how nervous I would be. I’m at a table for 4 but only 2 guests so I had lots of room to work. As I slowly cut the foil my knees were knocking and I started to perspire. Well I’m working right over top of the bottle trying to get the cork out and it’s fighting back. So I fight a little harder and really started to sweat. Pretty soon it’s a disturbing display of personal moisture. The bottle is starting to give up the cork but it’s a bit dry. Frankly it was the only thing dry at the table as I started to drip sweat on the table cloth. All around the bottle are droplets of sweat until the tablecloth started to look like a composite of the Shroud of Turin and a cartoon of Bart Simpson. Finally the cork released and my Commis (noticing my distress) placed a napkin over the scene of the crime. I was able to pour the wine with no difficulties and ran to the back for a wipe down. Much laughter ensued and I was able to regain my confidence for the next round.

Now that I have opened 1000’s of bottles I realize technique is important but also good tools. One of the things that is in my bag of tricks is a corkscrew called the Durand. . They don’t have a wholesale program so the best way to order one is directly from the link provided










This is a hybrid corkscrew that can open the toughest dried out cork with ease. If you spend any time at all opening bottles that are aged this will save you endless aggravation. If you are a wine professional and open bottles tableside this may help you avoid my “worst moment”.

Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food.


David Lancelot