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Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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corkscrews, wide range of devices for extracting corks from the necks of wine bottles.

It might be thought that cork extraction would prove an easy matter with any simple screw device, given the relatively soft, resilient nature of the stopper. However, there have been many hundreds of inventions since the middle of the 18th century with the aim of producing a better, more efficient corkscrew, and as yet none has been accepted as the perfect instrument. In particular, no corkscrew has yet been shown to be infallible with old port corks so port tongs are sometimes employed instead. The extraction operation can vary considerably. Corks vary in length and, as they accommodate to the shape of the bottle-neck, they can also vary in shape. Furthermore, cork undergoes ageing in old bottles and may partially disintegrate on extraction. The necks of old port bottles, for example, usually have a slightly bulbous form, so that the lower part of the cylindrical cork is weakened where it ballooned out and became cone shaped. Italian wine bottles tend to be narrow at the neck, tightly compressing corks and making them relatively difficult to penetrate.