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Simple DIY Guide: Opening a Wax Sealed Bottle Properly

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A wax sealed bottle is a beautiful addition to your wine collection and looks great on your wine rack, but it can be intimidating when it comes time to open it. In a restaurant, wax wine bottles can sometimes help a customer distinguish between regular and reserved wines. Opening one of these bottles is easier than you may imagine!

Even though wax provides a secure seal and barrier and may look like it is hard to penetrate, all you need to do is simply plunge your corkscrew through the wax, as if it did not even exist. Lift the cork slightly and wipe any wax crumbles from the opening. Carefully pull the cork out the rest of the way and enjoy! 

Oftentimes you have mastered the cork and mastered the screw top – but when it comes to a wax sealed wine bottle, you’re at a loss! Not to worry and not to panic as you attempt to embarrassingly open the wax sealed bottle. Read below for simple steps the next time you need to open a wax seal.

In this article, we will discover why some bottles get dipped in the first place and best practices for securely opening them – including methods you may not have thought about before. 

Best Way to Open Wax Sealed Wine Bottle 
Best Way to Open Wax Sealed Wine Bottle 

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How Do You Open a Wax Sealed Wine Bottle 

With some wax sealed bottles – on wines that you are not concerned about stirring up any sediment—you can avoid making a mess when opening a wax sealed wine bottle by melting the capsule off in a cup of very hot water, but take care to dip only the capsule in so as to avoid heating up the wine as much as possible. 

You can then wipe the melted wax clean with a paper towel, but take care not to burn yourself! 

If it’s an older wine, you should take more care with it because older corks can be more fragile. In these instances, take the sharpest blade on a waiter’s corkscrew and try to cut off the top of the wax to expose the cork: the same movement that you would make if it were a regular foil capsule. If the wax is really thick, it might take some extra working around and unfortunately, it will cause some mess.

Best Way to Open Wax Sealed Wine Bottle 

 Deciding on the best way to open a wax sealed wine bottle depends on the kind of wax used. The easiest to deal with is a handy “fake” wax seal that has a built-in tab for easy removal and exposure of the cork, like the foil of a Champagne bottle. This is a fairly recent innovation, so older bottles are unlikely to have tabs – but for those that do, use the tab. 

Most wax-sealed wines are covered in soft wax that may almost feel malleable. There are two ways to approach these bottles, both of which involve a classic waiter’s wine key. Some suggest cutting through the wax with the corkscrew knife as you would a foil.

If the wax is cut cleanly, it’s easy to peel off the top. However, most wines sealed with soft wax can simply be opened as if there were no wax at all. Simply insert the corkscrew straight through the wax and pull out the cork normally.

If the wax has an invisible perforation designed to come apart cleanly, it will easily lift off. If not, the cork will still pull through – it may just be a little more difficult. Luckily, there is usually not much risk of crumbling.

Older bottles or those sealed with hard wax are trickier. It’s wise to remove the wax that sits directly over the cork before attempting to open, as the wax will otherwise likely crumble or the corkscrew may not be strong enough to cut through the seal at all.

Use the knife of the corkscrew to gently chip away the hard wax, until the cork is exposed. There may still be remains of wax left on the bottle, so be careful when pulling the cork to brush away any dusty wax pieces that might inadvertently fall in the bottle.

If a piece of wax falls inside the bottle – do not worry – just pour a taste of the wine quickly into the glass. The wax should fall right into the glass with that first taste, allowing you to remove it before serving the rest of the bottle. Alternatively, pour the wine into a decanter by way of a cheesecloth. 

TIP: To learn how to store white wine after opening, check out this article I wrote. To discover if wine fridges are only for storing white wine, check out this complete guide I wrote. And for a complete breakdown of how to store wine long-term in 8 simple steps, you need to read this guide I wrote.

Why Wax Seal Bottles

Why Wax Seal Bottles
Why Wax Seal Bottles

Sealing wax allows high-end wineries to hold their top wines for decades without the need to re-cork the wine. Wax seals also provide an additional guarantee of the wine’s authenticity, as it would be difficult to fake the contents of the bottle by opening and resealing it.

It should also be noted that experience has shown that no matter how good the cork’s seal, it can never be perfect – unless it has an additional external cap to protect it. 

Another reason wax is used is for aesthetic purposes, as corks are much more adept at properly sealing wine bottles, even for long periods of time. But some producers still feel that an additional seal is necessary.

Waxed bottles have a nice classic, distinctive look. The main reason to add wax after corking the wine is to reduce oxygen entering the wine through the cork and preserve the flavor and aroma of the wine.

It also helps to keep mold out of the cork. Due to the cost and labor intensity of hand-dipping bottles, you will find wax seals only used for age-worthy high-end wines.

Opening a bottle with a wax seal may seem a challenge at first glance, but is actually pretty simple when modern wax seal materials are used.

Just push the worm of a corkscrew opener through the wax and turn it into the cork, just as you would do when opening a bottle without wax. Then use the levers of the opener to pull the cork out, this will cleanly break the top of the wax seal.

TIP: If you want to know more about touching corks during wine storage visit this article. Another important piece of knowledge about corks is knowing if wine corks can be recycled, find out the complete explanation in this article. And if some of your corks are moldy, read this article and find out if the wine inside the bottle is okay.

Conclusion

It must be stated that sometimes when people decide to proceed as if the wax seal weren’t there, screwing the worm of an old and dull corkscrew through the wax, this can turn out to be a mistake.

The wax crumbles spreading tiny yellow flakes many of which you will unearth for days to come. So, always have a sharp newer corkscrew when opening a wax sealed bottle. 

As mentioned earlier, experience has shown that no matter how good the cork’s seal, it can never be perfect – unless it has an additional external cap like wax to protect it.

Opening a bottle with a wax seal may seem a challenge at first glance, but is actually pretty simple when modern wax seal materials are used.

Remember, just push the sharp worm of a corkscrew opener through the wax and turn it into the cork, just as you would do when opening a bottle without wax. Then use the levers of the opener to pull the cork out, this will cleanly break the top of the wax seal.

Above all else, don’t let a wax seal cause you to shy away from a wine you’ve been wanting to try. You never know, it just may just be your new favorite bottle! 

TIP: Once you pop the cork, most wines go bad within a day or so. But a Coravin Wine Preservation system (available for a great price on Amazon) can extend the life of your opened wine for weeks or even months. It is awesome. You should check it out and see if it will fit into your lifestyle.

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