You’ve chosen your wine for the evening; now it’s time to open it. If your bottle has a screw cap, twist and pour. Bonus! You get your first sip a few seconds earlier. If you have a traditional cork closure, take your wine key — that souvenir you bought at a winery — and use its small blade to cut around the metal or plastic foil that protects the cork. You can cut along the top or the bottom of the bottle’s lip, it doesn’t really matter. If your blade is dull (most are), it’s fine to pry up the very bottom of the foil and remove the whole thing. You might lose style points at a sommelier competition, but the object here is to get to the wine.

Now place the tip of the coiled corkscrew part of your wine key (also called the worm) in the center of the cork, at about a 30 or 45 degree angle. Push in and twist, while bringing the worm straight perpendicular to the bottle. Keep pushing the worm into the cork (this is the “eek eek eek” part for Hitchcock movie fans) until the last part of the coil remains above the cork. If your wine key’s lever has two parts, use the middle one for leverage and pull the cork far enough out so that you can switch to the end of the lever. If your lever has only one segment, you may need to twist the worm out of the cork a little bit to get a grip, as it were. The two-part lever offers more stability and is less likely to break the cork as you pull it out of the bottle.

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