Need for wine foil?

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Lee Braem
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Need for wine foil?

#1 Post by Lee Braem »

I just opened a Bedrock Syrah tonight. To those who don't know, Bedrock places no foil (or wax, yippee) on top of the bottle.

If Bedrock and other wineries can package their wine without the foil, why don't more do it? Is there really any reason to keep sealing up a bottle with the foil?

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#2 Post by Peter Rosback »

There are some practical reasons foils were introduced.

I've been told that originally foils made of lead were used to keep rodents from eating through corks to get to the wine.

I'll bet that the long, elaborate foils used on champagne bottles originated from a need to conceal uneven fill levels.

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#3 Post by Wes Barton »

Not much need these days. It's just a huge materials waste - a fraction of which is the delicate foil itself. There's market expectation. But, you can see plenty of examples of great producers who factor the lack of a foil into the overall look of a bottle with quite elegant results. It's a clean look. So, it's a bunch of gutless lemmings clinging to what's "supposed to be" done. Consumers who happen to get used to foil-less bottles can get rather annoyed at having to deal with the things.
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#4 Post by Rich K0rz€nk0 »

Thread not too long ago on this...

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=169324

93%(223) did not care about the use of foil. Its telling.

There's some good posts on the history of the why, and the why seems irrelevant these days.
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#5 Post by Jim Anderson »

10 years and running with no foils. After 2 vintages the questions stopped. No problems.
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#6 Post by LasseK »

Guess it is just because consumers are used to it, so most wineries don't dare to change.

It seems like a huge waste of materials.
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#7 Post by Mark Livingston »

I had been curious about this and definitely seeing more and more bottles go without. Maybe it is trend that will slowly build over time.

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#8 Post by ChrisL »

Wax, while looks nice, is awful to open. Get rid of that too!
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#9 Post by Hank Victor »

Originally to prevent rodents from gnawing at the corks. Not too many rodent problems now a days...
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#10 Post by Markus S »

Hank Victor wrote: December 29th, 2020, 9:42 am Originally to prevent rodents from gnawing at the corks. Not too many rodent problems now a days...
Well they're still around, but we have mousetraps for that. No need for the foil. Sometimes though, it is a nice place for the wine to seep (instead of on the bottle neck) when certain Germans become overzealous with filling...
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#11 Post by Don Brazelton »

It could be a plot by foil cutter manufacturers.

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#12 Post by Michael Martin »

Don Brazelton wrote: December 29th, 2020, 11:56 am It could be a plot by foil cutter manufacturers.
If the bottle has a true foil on it, not the plastic ones, you do not need a foil cutter. Simply grab the foil firmly and twist. Off it comes. First trick I learned working in a tasting room.

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#13 Post by Michael Martin »

ChrisL wrote: December 29th, 2020, 9:07 am Wax, while looks nice, is awful to open. Get rid of that too!
Wax is easy to open.


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Re: Need for wine foil?

#14 Post by ChrisJames »

Markus S wrote: December 29th, 2020, 11:03 am
Hank Victor wrote: December 29th, 2020, 9:42 am Originally to prevent rodents from gnawing at the corks. Not too many rodent problems now a days...
Well they're still around, but we have mousetraps for that. No need for the foil. Sometimes though, it is a nice place for the wine to seep (instead of on the bottle neck) when certain Germans become overzealous with filling...
They may not be around so much in retail/wholesale spaces, but if the winery is connected to the vineyard and it has any sort of livestock that need feed (i.e. chickens), I'd think rodents are a given. I'd guess they like grapes/must too. On my farm, rodents invaded my barn and they easily evaded all sorts of traps. Now my three barn cats have a full time job. I don't keep wine down there, but rodents will chew just about anything imaginable to get what they want. Lead might have stopped them, but foil absolutely will not.

Clearly wineries such as PGC have figured it out how to manage all of this, and foil is now decorative.

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#15 Post by Peter Rosback »

Well, I believe lead was outlawed, or at least discontinued in use. (Lead residue was found on the necks of bottles that used lead foils.)
The need to look traditional has kept foils in use.

Stelvin closures do not need to be as long as they are. Again, the need to look traditional won out.

Don't get me started on tree bark bottle seals....

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#16 Post by Al Osterheld »

I opened a 15 year old Brewer Clifton Chardonnay with a wax capsule, tonight. Good luck with using the "ignore it and just drill right through" method. I opened it fine, but not by following that advice.

What is the value of foils, wax or otherwise? Nothing except tradition, really.

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#17 Post by Jason T »

Al Osterheld wrote: December 29th, 2020, 8:26 pm I opened a 15 year old Brewer Clifton Chardonnay with a wax capsule, tonight. Good luck with using the "ignore it and just drill right through" method. I opened it fine, but not by following that advice.

What is the value of foils, wax or otherwise? Nothing except tradition, really.

-Al
Al, curious what the issue would have been?

I believe you when you say the “ignore and drill method” wouldn’t have worked. In the last five years since I’ve take that approach it’s worked flawlessly for all but maybe one bottle. Still, I dislike wax and agree it, like it’s counterparts, serves no purpose.
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#18 Post by Adam Frisch »

It does serve a purpose - it's a design element or an accent. And in some cases, even the logo itself (Maker's Mark or Belle Glos, for instance). That's as important and valid as anything else.
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#19 Post by Vince T »

Michael Martin wrote: December 29th, 2020, 4:48 pm
ChrisL wrote: December 29th, 2020, 9:07 am Wax, while looks nice, is awful to open. Get rid of that too!
Wax is easy to open.

That video applies to 50% of wax capsules at best. If the cork is starting to show any sort of age, it will be a mess (even her cork in the video barely survives). And if the wax is not pliable, it can shatter into little wax bits that fall into the wine.

Adam, I love what you’re doing your wines, but to me the wax is a design that detracts rather than adds value...
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#20 Post by Michael Martin »

Vince T wrote: December 30th, 2020, 5:17 am
Michael Martin wrote: December 29th, 2020, 4:48 pm
ChrisL wrote: December 29th, 2020, 9:07 am Wax, while looks nice, is awful to open. Get rid of that too!
Wax is easy to open.

That video applies to 50% of wax capsules at best. If the cork is starting to show any sort of age, it will be a mess (even her cork in the video barely survives). And if the wax is not pliable, it can shatter into little wax bits that fall into the wine.

Adam, I love what you’re doing your wines, but to me the wax is a design that detracts rather than adds value...
All you need to do is crack the top layer of the wax to expose the cork. The screw in the center method does that. If the cork is falling apart, I pull out my Ah-So. If you get wax bits in the wine, which I have never personally had an issue with, run it through a filter like a Venturi.

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#21 Post by John S »

Yeah that video is the easy type of "wax" to remove which I am personally fine with. Unfortunately only maybe half are like that and many are the super crumbly types. Just using the worm is certainly the best way. However I use a Pungo all the time so I have to manually removed whatever wax is on top or it may plug the needle. I'm sure the same issue exists for a coravin. So I really try to avoid them, period as it is a real pain to remove the "wax" except in rare modern cases when it can almost peel off.
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#22 Post by Al Osterheld »

Jason T wrote: December 29th, 2020, 10:45 pm
Al Osterheld wrote: December 29th, 2020, 8:26 pm I opened a 15 year old Brewer Clifton Chardonnay with a wax capsule, tonight. Good luck with using the "ignore it and just drill right through" method. I opened it fine, but not by following that advice.

What is the value of foils, wax or otherwise? Nothing except tradition, really.

-Al
Al, curious what the issue would have been?

I believe you when you say the “ignore and drill method” wouldn’t have worked. In the last five years since I’ve take that approach it’s worked flawlessly for all but maybe one bottle. Still, I dislike wax and agree it, like it’s counterparts, serves no purpose.
They use a pretty thick wax that gets harder and less pliable with age. It would need a pretty sturdy cork to just pull through. This particular 15 year old cork was definitely not sturdy, needed to remove the wax from the top to be able to use an ah so.

With younger bottles (at least with the softer wax), I agree that the ignore and drill method works almost all the time.

BTW, it's a Brewer Clifton Pinot Noir bottle in the video. That gives an idea of the thickness of the wax. Now imagine it when it's older and less pliable.

-Al

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#23 Post by Al Osterheld »

I agree that the Belle Glos wax is part of the branding. Personally, I find their particular version to be an over the top and gaudy affectation. Somewhat usefully, it's prevented me from ever buying a bottle.

Mostly, I'm happy dealing with wax or foils. I actually enjoy cutting off the top of the foils and almost never just tear them off. The only wax I despise is the shellac version that shatters and makes a mess. But, I'm fine with no foils (and they can be a PITA on a bottling line). Harrington dropped foils at some point and went to a branded cork.

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#24 Post by Scott Jameson »

"ignore and drill" works real well with Dunn's Howell Mountain bottlings. That wax starts off hard and brittle. If you try to insert a corkscrew through it, you'll have a mess on your hands and likely in the wine.

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#25 Post by B. Buzzini »

Some extremes to me..

DomP...it's like they glued on the foil...so difficult to remove, especially older bottles. Cedric Bouchard...just slid it on, not even tight to the bottle neck.
I actually like the look of Champagne bottles with just the cage and cork!
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#26 Post by Glenn L e v i n e »

Wax sucks two bags of dicks.
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#27 Post by B. Buzzini »

Glenn L e v i n e wrote: December 30th, 2020, 8:27 am Wax sucks two bags of dicks.
Wow Doc...how many bottles of pycm have you downed now?!? [drinkers.gif]

[wow.gif]
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#28 Post by Jim Anderson »

By not using capsules starting in 2010 we literally had the cash to build an entire tasting room that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. No, of course we did not directly transfer money from “not purchasing capsules” to “saving for a capital project” but the point is we would have had to spend a bunch of money over the decade putting a tin condom on our bottles that most customers hate or at least disregard but instead we didn’t and it made the construction much more viable. There is nothing else we could have cut out that would have saved that much money while having no impact on our revenue. Easy.
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#29 Post by ChrisL »

Glenn L e v i n e wrote: December 30th, 2020, 8:27 am Wax sucks two bags of dicks.
Thank you my wax haters! I know how to open it. It’s when it’s all crumbly and falls into the wine, all over my counter and I have to vacuum the floor that draws my ire.
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#30 Post by Jim Anderson »

Also, if you’ve ever worked on a bottling line (not one of the mobile ones) you know that the single greatest choke point is the capsuler. It slows the operation significantly.
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#31 Post by Glenn L e v i n e »

B. Buzzini wrote: December 30th, 2020, 8:36 am
Glenn L e v i n e wrote: December 30th, 2020, 8:27 am Wax sucks two bags of dicks.
Wow Doc...how many bottles of pycm have you downed now?!? [drinkers.gif]

[wow.gif]
Many, and while I hate wax his white version is the good kind.
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#32 Post by Al Osterheld »

Jim Anderson wrote: December 30th, 2020, 9:31 am Also, if you’ve ever worked on a bottling line (not one of the mobile ones) you know that the single greatest choke point is the capsuler. It slows the operation significantly.
Absolutely. Even some of the mobile bottling lines have trouble with some capsules. When Harrington still used capsules we sometimes had to station a person to put them on by hand.

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#33 Post by Ken Zinns »

Al Osterheld wrote: December 30th, 2020, 9:38 am
Jim Anderson wrote: December 30th, 2020, 9:31 am Also, if you’ve ever worked on a bottling line (not one of the mobile ones) you know that the single greatest choke point is the capsuler. It slows the operation significantly.
Absolutely. Even some of the mobile bottling lines have trouble with some capsules. When Harrington still used capsules we sometimes had to station a person to put them on by hand.

-Al
Yup, I hate capsules when working on a bottling line. The smallest discrepancy between neck size and capsule size can screw things up, and it happens more often than you might think. Even if you’ve been using the same glass and capsules for years, sometimes the glass mold may change slightly and the supplier doesn’t alert you to that. Tends to be a significant issue with smaller custom crush clients who insist on lining up their own glass and capsules without having the knowledge/experience to do that right and then find out on bottling day that they don’t fit correctly. As Al noted, putting on capsules by hand is sometimes necessary on automated bottling lines when they won’t go on correctly otherwise, and that almost always slows things down. The most dreaded job on the bottling line: “capsule queen”.

As far as wax, a friend stabbed his wrist last month while chipping off hard wax from the top of a bottle. Lots of blood all over and a visit to the emergency room...
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#34 Post by Al Osterheld »

As far as wax, a friend stabbed his wrist last month while chipping off hard wax from the top of a bottle. Lots of blood all over and a visit to the emergency room...
I hope that wasn't someone I know.

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#35 Post by John Glas »

Wax, while looks nice, is awful to open. Get rid of that too!
Agree. I do what they say in the video and you are still going to get wax often times in your glass and bottle. I should not have to possibly cut myself try to get wax off the neck of a bottle.

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#36 Post by Ken Zinns »

Al Osterheld wrote: December 30th, 2020, 10:00 am
As far as wax, a friend stabbed his wrist last month while chipping off hard wax from the top of a bottle. Lots of blood all over and a visit to the emergency room...
I hope that wasn't someone I know.

-Al
Actually it is.
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#37 Post by Marshall Manning »

Al Osterheld wrote: December 30th, 2020, 7:36 am
They use a pretty thick wax that gets harder and less pliable with age. It would need a pretty sturdy cork to just pull through. This particular 15 year old cork was definitely not sturdy, needed to remove the wax from the top to be able to use an ah so.

With younger bottles (at least with the softer wax), I agree that the ignore and drill method works almost all the time.

BTW, it's a Brewer Clifton Pinot Noir bottle in the video. That gives an idea of the thickness of the wax. Now imagine it when it's older and less pliable.

-Al
Years ago I came up with a pretty good method for hard wax capsules. It's not pretty, but it works well and keeps MOST of the wax shards off of your counter and your wine. Take a double or triple paper towel and get it lightly damp. Wrap it over the hard wax, keeping it fairly tight around the neck. Then take a butter knife/meat hammer/any kitchen tool and give it light to medium taps all around the top and sides of the wax down to the lip of the bottle. Make sure you've done it all around in order to get the wax in small pieces. Then twist the towel up and off, pinching it as you lift so all of the wax pieces stay in the paper towel. You might have to scrape off a few little pieces, but this generally gets most of them and leaves most of the wax in the paper towel ready to toss in the trash.
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#38 Post by Al Osterheld »

Yes, I also use the butter knife technique with hard wax. I once chipped all the wax off a Tissot Trousseau I took for one post crush day mystery wine session. Took a little while, though.

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#39 Post by Scott Jameson »

Marshall Manning wrote: December 30th, 2020, 1:25 pm
Al Osterheld wrote: December 30th, 2020, 7:36 am
They use a pretty thick wax that gets harder and less pliable with age. It would need a pretty sturdy cork to just pull through. This particular 15 year old cork was definitely not sturdy, needed to remove the wax from the top to be able to use an ah so.

With younger bottles (at least with the softer wax), I agree that the ignore and drill method works almost all the time.

BTW, it's a Brewer Clifton Pinot Noir bottle in the video. That gives an idea of the thickness of the wax. Now imagine it when it's older and less pliable.

-Al
Years ago I came up with a pretty good method for hard wax capsules. It's not pretty, but it works well and keeps MOST of the wax shards off of your counter and your wine. Take a double or triple paper towel and get it lightly damp. Wrap it over the hard wax, keeping it fairly tight around the neck. Then take a butter knife/meat hammer/any kitchen tool and give it light to medium taps all around the top and sides of the wax down to the lip of the bottle. Make sure you've done it all around in order to get the wax in small pieces. Then twist the towel up and off, pinching it as you lift so all of the wax pieces stay in the paper towel. You might have to scrape off a few little pieces, but this generally gets most of them and leaves most of the wax in the paper towel ready to toss in the trash.
I use a kitchen knife and generally knock off the wax on the back patio, where making a mess isn't as big a deal. Breaking off the wax this way is not a gentle operation, though. My problem is remembering to do it a few weeks in advance when I'm opening an older bottle, so I can put the wine back in the cellar, the sediment has time to re-settle and the wine can be decanted.

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#40 Post by Wes Barton »

Ken Zinns wrote: December 30th, 2020, 9:56 am
Al Osterheld wrote: December 30th, 2020, 9:38 am
Jim Anderson wrote: December 30th, 2020, 9:31 am Also, if you’ve ever worked on a bottling line (not one of the mobile ones) you know that the single greatest choke point is the capsuler. It slows the operation significantly.
Absolutely. Even some of the mobile bottling lines have trouble with some capsules. When Harrington still used capsules we sometimes had to station a person to put them on by hand.

-Al
Yup, I hate capsules when working on a bottling line. The smallest discrepancy between neck size and capsule size can screw things up, and it happens more often than you might think. Even if you’ve been using the same glass and capsules for years, sometimes the glass mold may change slightly and the supplier doesn’t alert you to that. Tends to be a significant issue with smaller custom crush clients who insist on lining up their own glass and capsules without having the knowledge/experience to do that right and then find out on bottling day that they don’t fit correctly. As Al noted, putting on capsules by hand is sometimes necessary on automated bottling lines when they won’t go on correctly otherwise, and that almost always slows things down. The most dreaded job on the bottling line: “capsule queen”.

As far as wax, a friend stabbed his wrist last month while chipping off hard wax from the top of a bottle. Lots of blood all over and a visit to the emergency room...
That was a serrated foil cutter deep into his forearm. That's the incident my sig references.

Capsules are absolutely the number one cause of problems on the bottling line. Even with capsule queens, poor fitting ones (various reasons) can have wrinkling and/or smushing problems, so the box fillers are pulling some ridiculous percentage of bottles off the line for another foiling attempt. That can lead to running out of foils, so the last bottles don't get any. Then the winemaker will have to put them on manually later, or use those bottles as sample bottle or personal bottles, if it's not too many. If they're just too problematic, the whole day's production ends up not getting capsules. That either marks the conversion point or another bottling truck day has to be scheduled and paid for just to put capsules on, or a day (or more) of workers manually capsuling.

One big producer that always had issues with a snug fit - not too bad, but always required capsule queens and about a 5% do over and maybe 15% "good enough" - did a bunch of research and found a sample bottle that kept their look and tested out fine. The ten thousand cases show up just-in-time for a multi-day bottling run. The bottles aren't the same as the sample! Basically the same as before, so thankfully not worse. There's no way to reschedule.

Then, apparently a common practice, was this new mobile line who intentionally omitted the fact they didn't have a capsuler to the winemaker. Imagine a fast line with a full day's wine to be bottled at that pace, you have just enough crew to do it, and "Oh, we need two people in the truck to capsule." Luckily, I was able to get one extra (really good) person to come in to bail us out or a few of the wines wouldn't have been bottled that day. Still, in 15 years of bottling, that was the most non-stop cardio demanding, where I was doing the job of two people on a fast line. All that BS because the guy wanted to make his bid look more competitive.
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Can't stand bloody wax capsules.

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#41 Post by Wes Barton »

Scott Jameson wrote: December 30th, 2020, 2:11 pm
Marshall Manning wrote: December 30th, 2020, 1:25 pm
Al Osterheld wrote: December 30th, 2020, 7:36 am
They use a pretty thick wax that gets harder and less pliable with age. It would need a pretty sturdy cork to just pull through. This particular 15 year old cork was definitely not sturdy, needed to remove the wax from the top to be able to use an ah so.

With younger bottles (at least with the softer wax), I agree that the ignore and drill method works almost all the time.

BTW, it's a Brewer Clifton Pinot Noir bottle in the video. That gives an idea of the thickness of the wax. Now imagine it when it's older and less pliable.

-Al
Years ago I came up with a pretty good method for hard wax capsules. It's not pretty, but it works well and keeps MOST of the wax shards off of your counter and your wine. Take a double or triple paper towel and get it lightly damp. Wrap it over the hard wax, keeping it fairly tight around the neck. Then take a butter knife/meat hammer/any kitchen tool and give it light to medium taps all around the top and sides of the wax down to the lip of the bottle. Make sure you've done it all around in order to get the wax in small pieces. Then twist the towel up and off, pinching it as you lift so all of the wax pieces stay in the paper towel. You might have to scrape off a few little pieces, but this generally gets most of them and leaves most of the wax in the paper towel ready to toss in the trash.
I use a kitchen knife and generally knock off the wax on the back patio, where making a mess isn't as big a deal. Breaking off the wax this way is not a gentle operation, though. My problem is remembering to do it a few weeks in advance when I'm opening an older bottle, so I can put the wine back in the cellar, the sediment has time to re-settle and the wine can be decanted.
Imagine bringing a bottle like that to a fancy restaurant dinner, having assumed it were an easy to deal with wax.
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Can't stand bloody wax capsules.

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Al Osterheld
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Re: Need for wine foil?

#42 Post by Al Osterheld »

I've seen Raveneau bottles open at a casual restaurant, bit of a mess. Nice moment to have a Somm who can take it away to open.

-Al

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#43 Post by Nick Ellis »

I opened a 1995 Herman Ludes Riesling tonight, and when I took the (plastic) foil off, the cork fell into the wine. The wine itself is beautiful with no oxidation whatsoever. This isn’t the first time the capsule has saved an older bottle for me, so I won’t object to their use on long-haul bottles. Anything meant to be opened within 10 years doesn’t need the foil.

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#44 Post by Karl K »

I have not done this but have read for Dunn type wax to soften with heat like a cigar torch.
K a z a k s

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#45 Post by larry schaffer »

It's best use these days is to make foil hats to keep you safe from aliens, right? [snort.gif] neener [soap.gif]
larry schaffer
tercero wines

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#46 Post by Al Osterheld »

Yep, especially those shape-shifting lizard people plotting with Justin Bieber, Bill Gates, and George Soros to use 5G for world domination.

-Al

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Re: Need for wine foil?

#47 Post by ChrisL »

Al Osterheld wrote: December 30th, 2020, 7:33 pm Yep, especially those shape-shifting lizard people plotting with Justin Bieber, Bill Gates, and George Soros to use 5G for world domination.

-Al
Glad Soros was finally brought up regarding foil. I’m sure he and Alcoa are in bed together ensuring capsules on all our bottles. Wake up sheeple.
Ludg@te

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