Why are bottle dripping wax used to cover the cork in some wine bottles? And is there a trick to removing them without creating lots of mess?
Historically, wine bottle sealing wax protected the cork from rodents in the cellar; they also hid any sign of leakage as corks were less reliable than they are today. By the 1980s, the wax was replaced with aluminium, but there is a growing trend today to use wine bottle sealing wax seals once more. The decision is chiefly a stylistic one, but we also believe that wine bottle sealing wax offers better protection than aluminium.
There are different degrees of waxing: from a neat dot on the top of the bottle to some wines with half the neck covered. Faced with the job of broaching one, first determine whether the bottle dripping wax is hard or soft. If it’s the soft variety, simply put the corkscrew through the wax and remove the cork as usual. Hard wax is trickier – it must be chipped away at until it breaks off. Wrap the bottle in a plastic bag and tap the wax top lightly but firmly with the handle of your corkscrew. The wax will eventually start to crack. The bag will prevent bottle dripping wax shards flying all over your dinner table.
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