Ah So Wine Opener Tips

Look as cool as a wine connoisseur next time you open an older wine

The biggest challenge with opening a bottle of wine is making sure the cork doesn’t break. The older a bottle of wine is, the harder it is to keep that cork from breaking. Why? When corks get old, they crumble. Wine corks are simply the natural, fibrous tissue of a cork tree just below its bark, and they can’t hold their near-impermeability for eternity. A wine cork’s lifespan is typically shorter than a bottle of fine red wine, as a cork’s structural integrity will start to degrade after about ten years. That’s why there is a special wine cork extractor specifically for old wines called the ah so. This video by Jordan Winery demonstrates how to use an ah so wine opener–a two-prong wine opener that uses one longer and one shorter prong to extract the cork rather than a spiral corkscrew. Follow these steps to open a bottle like a pro with an ah so.

How to Use an Ah So Wine Opener

  1. Use a foil cutter or waiter’s corkscrew knife to remove the foil. There is no wine foil cutter on an ah so cork puller, so you’ll need one of these tools first.
  2. Insert the long prong first into the tiny crease between the lip of the bottle and the cork. Watch above video for demonstration.
  3. Insert the shorter prong and start wiggling the ah so wine opener back and forth down the sides of the cork.
  4. Be careful not to add downward pressure as the ah so handle gets closer to the top of the cork. This could push the cork into the wine bottle.
  5. When the prongs are inserted down the side of the cork about an inch, and there’s about a half-inch of space between the ah so handle and the top of the cork, start to slowly twist the ah so and the wine cork out of the bottle.
  6. Move two fingers down to grip the ah so prongs and cork as you twist to help guide out the cork.

There are many different types of corkscrews, which work great for younger wine corks, but the ah so wine opener is strongly recommended for any bottle of red wine aged more than 10 years.

Why do most winemakers of high-quality wines prefer natural cork stoppers? Besides the tradition of cork being used to help preserve wine for centuries, corks are elastic and easy to insert into a bottle. They also have very small holes, called lenticels, which help the wine breathe and evolve in the bottle due to the tiny amount of oxygen that permeates the cork naturally. It is recommended to store most red wines lying down on their side, which allows the cork to touch the wine and work its magic.

Learn more about wine corks on the Jordan Winery blog.

Video Transcript

We’re about to open up a 20-year old bottle of wine, the 1997 Jordan Cabernet and I want to show you guys how to use what’s called an Ah-So. A different wine tool for using, when you have an older cork like this, people might struggle with using a regular corkscrew.

We recommend when a wine is ten years old or older to use an Ah-So just because the cork ages, along with the wine, the integrity will start to crumble. And the Ah-So is a little gentler on the cork and you’re not going to have any issues with crumbling and you’ll be able to extract the cork and not damage it, which would be the case if you were to use a corkscrew on anything we find older than 10-years. This being 20 we’re going to use an Ah-So. We’ll show you how to use that right now.

You’re going to need one other tool which is a foil cutter, as an Ah-So doesn’t have a foil cutter on it.

Alright, we’re gonna go ahead and open up this bottle with the Ah-So. It might be easier to stand up just to shimmy the Ah-So into the bottle.

Ah-So has two prongs – one that’s longer than the other. You’re going to want to insert the longer prong first, followed by the shorter prong. Then you’re just going to kind of wiggle it back and forth until it slowly kind of gets further and further into the neck of the bottle.

This is kind of where you want to be careful because this is a point where you could push the cork into the bottle, just take your time and kind of shimmy it in.

And now John is twisting and pulling up, slowly and carefully. Perfect. There you go, but you can see on the cork site here there is a little bit of crumbling. This was a perfect one to use and Ah-So on.

If you were to use a traditional corkscrew on a wine of this age, you would insert the corkscrew and most likely the cork is going to fall apart and crumble. It can break in half or just kind of really decimate. And that doesn’t really mean it’s a bad cork by any means, the cork is a natural product and we know that it could have its integrity for up to 15-years, but beyond that, it will start to crumble. We definitely recommend using an Ah-So for 10-years or older, just to be on the safe side.

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About the Author

Born and raised in rural Kansas, Lisa Mattson fell in love with wine during college in South Florida and worked for a wine magazine before moving to Northern California. She spent almost a decade working as a writer, marketing director and photographer/videographer for Jordan Winery and now serves as a hospitality design and marketing consultant for several wineries, including Jordan. She also designs succulent gardens under the name Sonoma Succulents. When she’s not eating and sipping her way through Sonoma County in the summer and Baja California Sur in the winter, she travels the world with her husband in search of new succulents, ethnic foods, snorkeling spots and tiki bars.

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