Opening a bottle when the cork crumbles

This happened to me 5 minutes ago with a bottle of 2006 Rhys Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard (which is currently delicious, by the way). I don’t see that this has been a prior topic of discussion in older threads, so I’m curious: what is your method to handle this problem?

Here is what I did. Corkscrew goes in, screws through completely, but then strips a hole through the cork when I pull upwards. I made one more attempt on a diagonal, but the cork continued to crumble from the top. I did not see any visible cork at the surface of the wine. I then used my Coravin through the crumbled surface and drained the entire bottle. It worked pretty well, there was no cork dust or debris and I got the wine out of the bottle.

How do you guys approach these bottles?

Ah So puller. The easy way.

or a Durand.

When faced with an irretrievably messed up and partial cork, push it into the bottle and filter decant.

If you can’t corkscrew it, screw it and filter.

wow, I’m surprised that happened on a 10yr wine. I’ve only had that with older bottles.

I’m surprised cursing has not been mentioned. I curse. Then, I work on the cork as you describe. If that doesn’t work, I do whatever it takes to remove the remaining cork and then run the wine through a filter into a decanter to eliminate the cork contact with the wine. Cursing continues through this process.

I do not own an Durand nor do I own an ah-so. That flavors my methods. I’d do as others that own these devices suggest if I did. I’d still curse.


Funny story about the ah so. I went into a small Denver wine store specifically looking for one. The owner said “no one buys THOSE anymore.”.

Did you tell him he was one ?

A. So is the solution. :wink:


I spent (too many) years working the floor and when I would run into these starting with a corkscrew I would switch to a cork puller where possible. When completely crumbled, first would throw out, but if a client’s bottle, I would offer to decant with a filter. Check the nose for obvious issues for the customer, and move on.

Start putting in the corkscrew at as close to a 45 degree angle as possible. Won’t solve every cork breakage issue but it will save you in most instances when a Durand isn’t handy

I wouldn’t use a Durand as a matter of course for such a young wine though. The ah-so is great but again, who expects a crumbling cork on a 2006?

Sometimes if you know your cork is going to go to hell, you can swap out the corkscrew for an ah-so but usually it’s too late by the time the cork is disintegrating.

I’d probably have just gotten PO’d, pushed the cork in, and used a very fine mesh tea strainer. It’s helped many many times.

And I would have given quiet thanks for the fact that human ingenuity has developed cardiac stents, machines that can explore the surface of Mars, and diet soda, which makes you lose more weight with every bottle you consume, and we’ve also established that corks are the best possible closure for wine that it is possible to imagine on any world.

I’ve seen bad corks in even younger bottles. Rare, but not completely abnormal. (maybe 1 bottle in 100 cases or so?)

Ah-So first. If unsuccessful, pushing the cork in and decanting.

Agree with Durand (or combination Ah so and Screwpull).

I got a very fine mesh (unused!) urine strainer from a urologist buddy for those cases when all else fails. Fits perfectly on the top of a decanter.

I have one of those strainers too from a urologist friend. unused of course.

I have a feeling a couple of urologists may be laughing behind your backs . . . [swoon.gif]

Seems alot of people have those urologist strainers but have never used them.

I was going to ask…in those cases where you wanted to run your wine through a filter/strainer/sieve without out imparting any unusual characteristic to the wine (? Would some paper coffee filters do this?), and you would want to get out very fine sediment particles but in no way strip the wine of flavor, what would you use?
Paper coffee filter? Those gold colored metal coffee filters? These urology strainers (though are they effective for crumbly corks but not fine enough for sediment?)