destroy a cork

Okay, so I'm not being entirely serious here. I stayed home again today because I wasn't feeling great (sleep was difficult at best), but as the day wore on I actually felt mostly better. I'm not sure if it's because I'm coming through the end of this, or if it's just the medicine doing its thing, but either way, I feel like I'm on the mend.

So the wine: almost two years ago I purchased a 12 bottle vertical of Cabernet Sauvignon ranging from 1993 to 2008 (lacking only three stops along the way). Initially I was planning to have or attend some sort of meat and wine party with several of my friends who also enjoy these things, but our schedules just haven't aligned. A couple of months ago my wife and I started drinking these wines, from the youngest to the oldest. At this point we are doing to the last three: 1996, 1995, 1993. This 1996 wine is twenty years old, carrying a vintage a decade before my wedding--I think that it is likely the oldest wine I've ever opened, even counting when I was just 21 all those years ago.

I knew from the experience of the last couple of these pre-2000 bottles that the cork was going to be challenging. My typical corkscrew is similar to a waiter's screw, and just destroyed the cork, and I had to fall back to the OXO winged corkscrew that I'm fairly certain we got at our wedding and is a bit thinner and longer than I prefer.

Despite my best efforts at being extremely gentle and slow, I failed miserably. The cork tore in half as the screw slipped in, then as it was sliding from the neck, a crevice developed from the top to the new-bottom.

Of course, knowing that this bottle was likely to have significant sediment, I prepared myself a handy-dandy setup to help handle. Any wine snobs out there reading this might want to just stop now--what's coming isn't going to be pretty, but boy was it functional!


We have a few one litre carafes that we use for various things such as tea, water, juices, soups, and occasionally decanting. Sitting atop this is my pour-over coffee basket which has a super-fine metal mesh that does a great job of straining out small particles (when I make coffee it's often better than French press, but with less silt at the bottom of the cup). In that last photo you can see where the wine stopped draining because the sediment had plugged up the strainer.

This whole endeavor had the benefit of also helping to aerate the wine. I would have expected that something this old would need to sit an hour or three before even being touched, but when I poured a dribble into a glass to give it an initial test, I was surprised at the rich plum and round flavors that were already erupting from the glass. My wife tried a glass as well, and over the course of the next twenty minutes topped that glass up two more times while we had pizza.

Here's a quick video of the setup in action.

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