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chasmartel

Wax Sealed Bottles

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What is the best way to open a bottle with a wax seal without spreading bits of cracked wax all over the table/floor & down the neck of the bottle? The other night, I did what I usually do -- lever corkscrew right through the wax all the while leaning over the kitchen garbage. Not so elegant . . . is there a way to do this better?

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I put the bottle in my kitchen sink. Then I cut/break the wax around the edge at the top, just like with a tin cap. Finally, I scratch away all rest of the wax on the cork. If needed, I wash the top of the bottle.

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Place the bottle in a plastic or a paper bag, the paper is better because it stands up on its own.

Open the bottle the way you usually do and if any wax bits cling to the bottle just use a paper towel to wipe it down into the bag. There is less likelihood of banging the bottle around in a sink (slippery) and you can work on at table height which is a little less awkward.

I use this for opening the large bottles of olive oil from Spain and from Greece that are usually capped with a very hard wax. Also some of the more expensive Balsamic vinegars come this way. When it is very brittle it cracks and sends little shards everywhere.....

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It's always messy, but it can be entertaining. You can lay down a napkin to catch wax bits if you want to open it at the table. Depending on the composition of the wax, if it's soft enough you can cut around the lip as Boris_A suggested and pull the cork out, leaving wax on top, or, if the wax is hard as a rock, just whack around the edge with a heavy waiter's friend and use the knife on the waiter's friend to pop the wax off the top. The second method is messier, but sometimes the wax is petrified. :biggrin:

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Encpsulating the bottles by hand dipping in wax is a European tradition rarely seen anymore...but if chipping away at the wax it too messy for you, then remove the wax as they did in France many years ago...rotate the waxed end of the bottle slowly over a candle, and then the wax can be sliced from the top as if it were warm Camembert cheese.

These directions came from Dunn Vineyards, whose Howell Mountain cabernets are always capsuled by hand dipping.

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In various discussions on various wineboards it seems that wine geeks generally all agree on one thing: Wax capsules are a pain and there seems to be little agreement on the best way to deal with them.

Cheers,

Joe

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Thanks for your (collective) input. Other than the candle (which I like a lot), it doesn't sound like there is some simple solution I have just been missing.

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How ironic this topic has just come up... I just brought up several bottles from the company from whom we get bottles waxed (the same one Dunn uses). The stuff used here in Napa is very thick and hard and, yes, a pain to get off.

It is rarely soft enough to cut through and I think warming it is the cleanest method.

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With difficulty!

 

Actually, I've just checked and my Chartreuse doesn't look like it ever had a wax seal. That's ordinary (!) green; are you dealing with VEP or some other exotic variant, Jo?

 

But when I'm faced with a bottle of something with a seal, I use a knife to cut around where I think the actual seal (cork or whatever) joins the bottle, then ease it out normally.  But be careful; we don't want to see you in the 'I will never again ...' topic anytime soon.

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Well, what I finally did was rest the neck on a pile of oven mitts while I chipped the cork free with a knife.*  Then I wiped the chunks and bits of brown wax from the floor and counter.  Which turned into a bigger cleaning project.  After dinner (baking bread at the moment, almost midnight) I may yet enjoy a glass of the Chartreuse.  Never had green Chartreuse before.  V.E.P. or otherwise.

 

Other than the Chartreuse everything else was restock.

 

 

*Possibly not the best thing for the knife.

 

 

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It can be a bit of pain but with determination, resilience and the last bit of VEP from the previous bottle for inspiration it can be done!

 

It has been awhile but I seem to recall that it was a bit of a pain! I believe I was able to locate the gap between the cork and the top of the bottle and carefully cut into the wax down to that gap with a well sharpened knife until I could remove the cork. Then you can cut or peel off the wax from the stopper and replace it before carefully trimming the wax from the top of the bottle to get the wax away from the edge without getting any into the bottle.

 

It was something like that. That last bit of Chartreuse VEP left in the previous bottle may have been more than I was planning on and it is pretty strong after all! 9_9

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