What to do When the Cork Breaks

March 4, 2016

The other night, I learned the that when you try to uncork an older bottle of wine, the cork is subject to breakage (duh?). Not that I find myself drinking older bottles of wine very often because A) they don’t stand a chance lasting longer than a week in our house, and B) We have one grocery store, and the nicest bottle of wine they sell is $22. 

Also, cheap bottles of wine often have weak corks, which can break easily. If you’re still having trouble with broken corks, chances are you’re using the wrong kind of screw! I had no idea, but after breaking the cork off into a vintage bottle, and getting looked at by a room full of evil emoji faces, I learned real quick to never use one of those ‘exercise man’ openers again. Instead – you should always use a waiter’s corkscrew, and always go very slow!

If you’re opening up a bottle, and the cork breaks, fear not. Here are 4 ways to save the wine! 

Option 1: Use a decanter! Pour the bottle into a decanter, and then pour into glasses. The decanter will filter out any bits of cork that may have made it into the wine.

Option 2: Try a wire mesh colander (the kind you would use to sift powdered sugar). Also a tea strainer works well. Hold it over the bottle, and pour the wine into a large glass pitcher or wine glasses. 

Option 3: You can always use cheesecloth or a coffee filter. This option would be my last resort, considering the last time I tried to use cheesecloth to strain something (grapefruit juice for this recipe), it literally went all over the counter and I found myself using a straw trying salvage the spilled juice like a drug addict. 

Option 4: If all else fails, just use your finger to skim it out – that’s the lazy way.

As quoted from my favorite wine country wedding planners: “Don’t have a shitty cork screw ;).”  Everyone needs a good screw. A corkscrew that is… Here are some of their favorites: this one or this one! And, this is a must if you find yourself in the Queen’s house, sipping vintage bottles more than once or twice a month. 

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  1. Wow, this is really wonderful. Dont throw your wine corks ship them for FREE at CORKCLUB, I have heard about this organisation, CORKCLUB. They recycle wine corks to save our forest. Its really a nice step.

    • Same here! I am happy to know that using a waiter’s screw is the best bet! I always used the ‘exercise’ man openers before!

  2. These are some really great ideas! I drink wine all of the time and I get so frustrated when the cork breaks or falls into the bottle. I’ll for sure try some of these. Awesome

  3. Great ideas! This happens to me maybe more than it should and these are all such great ways to salvage a bottle of wine afterwards! Although if I’m being perfectly honest I usually end up doing the last one hahaha.

  4. I had no idea that the cork screw you use can actually break your cork! I personally usually buy bottles of wine that have screw tops, but this is great advice and something I need to remember.

  5. I keep a stash of corks in the house to recork (usually the bottle is done first). My husband showed me how to use a piece of string to get the cork out if it falls into the bottle too- pretty sweet. How sad is it that I own a wine decanter that we have never used?

  6. This has happened to me before on so many different occasions. I was starting to think there was something wrong with my corking technique, but it’s probably because I only buy cheap wine. haha. Thanks for the tips!

  7. Strainers are a good idea. Also, as long as you’ve got a decent corkscrew and the cork is not in danger of completely crumbling, you can usually just screw into the broken piece still lodged in the neck. I recommend flipping the bottle upside down so gravity and the wine trapped inside work in your favor. Tales Of A Former Bartender.