Q: Sometimes when I remove a bottle of white wine from the refrigerator I am unable to remove the cork with any type of corkscrew. It may be that the coldness of the refrigerator...

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Q:

Sometimes when I remove a bottle of white wine from the refrigerator I am unable to remove the cork with any type of corkscrew. It may be that the coldness of the refrigerator affects the cork in some way. I was wondering if you can tell me how to prevent the problem from happening or to explain why it might be occurring.


A:

My best guess is that the coldness of the fridge is contracting the glass in the neck of the bottle ever so slightly — just enough to keep the cork locked in extra tight. This would also be particularly noticeable with a plastic cork or with a young wine that had only recently been bottled. Plastic corks do not have the same flexibility as real cork, and when cold they seem to stiffen further. They are also very difficult to remove with certain types of cork-pullers (especially the lever style). Young wines that have only recently been bottled often have very tightly compressed corks.

The immediate solution to your troubles would seem to be:

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• Get a better corkscrew.

• Wrap a warm cloth around the very top of the bottle before trying to pull the cork.

• Pull the cork first and then chill the bottle down to drinking temperature.

Paul Gregutt answers questions weekly in the Wine section. He can be reached by e-mail at wine@seattletimes.com