Vintage wine or Port is usually stored for many years. The preferred method is to store the bottles laid down, so that the cork does not become dry and brittle. A dry cork would allow air to enter the bottle, and oxidize its precious contents.

A bottle that has been aged for many years usually has a cork that is "glued" to the neck of the bottle. The cork will be extremely difficult to remove, and care has to be taken that the sediments in the bottle are not disturbed. Also, the cork can break easily, allowing pieces of cork to fall into the bottle.

A traditional way to open vintage bottles is by "tonging", snapping the neck of the bottle right below the cork, using a set of tongs.


  1. A set of dedicated bottle tongs. These may be hard to get. You probably have to order these from some specialty store. However, if you're serious about guzzling down a 1966 Sandeman Founders Reserve, you better have the right tools at hand.
  2. A gas burner. A candle won't give you enough heat, and will also give you messy soot on the tongs.
  3. Ice
  4. A decanter
  5. A candle (used during decanting)
  6. Your finest Nectar of the Gods


  1. Remove the bottle from storage, and place it upright for at least 24 hours. This will allow all the sediments to settle. Before opening, the bottle should be at drinking temperature.
  2. Heat the circle shaped part of the tongs in the burner until red hot. The entire ring should be well heated.
  3. Carefully place the tongs around the neck of the standing bottle, right below the cork. Hold the tongs in place for a few minutes.
  4. Remove the tongs, and immediately pass some ice around the heated area of the bottle neck. The glass will break with a clicking sound. Continue passing the ice around the neck for a few more seconds.
  5. Carefully release the snapped of neck of the bottle. This should be done without any resistance from the bottle.
  6. If the bottle neck did not snap off completely, reheat the tongs and repeat the procedure
  7. Pour the wine slowly and carefully into the decanter. This should be done against the light of a candle. As soon as the pour becomes cloudy, stop the decanting immediately.

Try this method first on a $4 Chateau Migraine before performing it on the real deal.

Feel free to invite me for the wine tasting! has more information

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