Wine Pouring Tips

5 Etiquette Tips for Uncorking and Pouring Wine

Have you ever been to a coffee shop where they pour lattes that come out looking like swans or palm trees? You’ve likely watched them steam milk until a slight whistling sound, then gently tap the steaming pitcher on the counter to release bubbles. They then move the pitcher deftly while pouring with a slight swirling motion. These extra flourishes are indicative of skills and facility.

Wine, too, offers you the chance to show a special level of adeptness, and it begins with opening and pouring wine with style and elegance. Incorporate these tips into your wine pouring, and your friends will be calling you “Cabernet Casanova” in no time.


1. Cut foil, then wipe.

We’ve all had that piece of foil stick to a cookie or baked potato before. That bite of aluminum sends pain shooting through your tooth and a wash of metallic flavor through your mouth. It’s not the most pleasant experience, to say the least.

To a lesser degree, wine poses this same risk. With the exception of wax dipped bottles, the vast majority of wine comes foil wrapped. Even if your foil cutting skills are top-notch, traces may be left on the tip of the bottle that can taint the flavor of your first pour every so slightly. Take a clean linen or cotton napkin and wipe the edge. Repeat this step after uncorking.

2. Hold the bottle by the neck when uncorking.

For the same reason we don’t hold wine glasses by the goblet, a tight grip on a wine bottle while opening is generally discouraged. We don’t want to allow the heat from our hands to warm the bottle while we uncork a fresh bottle. Plus, the neck offers a better grip and more leverage. What could be worse than a bottle slipping and spilling during the uncorking process. The horror!


3. Check the cork.

You should look at the cork for two reasons. First, you want to examine it to make sure there are no apparent signs of breakage. The only thing worse than foil in your wine is cork, and it’s a signature of a rookie oenophile. Second, the cork gives you the first indication of the quality of what’s inside. If the cork smells funny or the color is off, check the wine for spoilage.


4. That concavity at the bottom? Yeah, that’s for you.

Fancy restaurants know this one well. Wine makers aren’t trying you rip you off by shaping the bottles this way. The indentation at the bottom of a wine bottle is there for your thumb. This one takes some practice, but the proper way to hold a bottle is to hold by the base with your thumb in the divot. For added finesse, keep the label facing those you’re serving.

5. Don’t hold the glass while pouring.

Again, temperature control is a big deal in the high-falutin’ wine world. Leave the glass upright, and pour at a slight angle. You want a nice, gentle “glugging” sound—just enough to aerate the wine, but not enough to cause any serious frothing.

Learning some uncorking and pouring flair can earn you some serious street cred and style points among friends and family—and perhaps even that special someone. Master these, and take a step toward becoming a wine superstar.

Isabella Crisman