Thu 10 Jan 2013

Best Way To Remove a Wax Capsule?


A wax capsule

Beyond the vinous obvious, what do The Society’s current selections from Rioja, Portugal and the Savoie have in common?

The answer is that they contain some wines with a wax (rather than the more common plastic) capsule.

Smart though these capsules undoubtedly look, I have been asked a few times what the best way is to remove these capsules without an unwelcome decorating of the kitchen floor.

I find the best method to be:

1. Wrap the capsule and top part of the neck of the bottle in a glasscloth.

2. Tap the wax top of the capsule lightly but firmly with a slightly heavy object, perhaps the handle of your corkscrew; enough to cause the wax to crack and break up.

3. Carefully remove the glasscloth containing the wax pieces and dispose of them.

4. Insert corkscrew, remove cork and enjoy!

Mark Buckenham
Society Buyer


  1. Peter Valiunas says:

    Alternatively, heat the wax in hottish water and then cut around the top and open before wax hardens again.

  2. Leigh Johnson says:

    It is actually normally possible to simply insert the worm of the corkscrew directly through the wax into the cork, as though it were not there at all. Then, as you remove the cork, the top of the cork pushjes off the wax capsule as it comes out, without any mess. Certainly this is what Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey suggests in relation to his own wax-capsuled whites and I have never had a problem.

  3. William De'Ath says:

    I find Leigh Johnson method works well. Just make sure no flakes fall in as the last of the cork is removed. It is not great for one of those grip and lever screws as it can blunt/bend the thin screw as with plastic corks. Other screws should be fine though.

    Of course the other methods are tidyer and more fun.. I like a saber or bottom of wine glass or simple table knife to make a show opening Champagne at weddings etc.

    So time and place for different methods. 🙂

    • Peter Harris says:

      With a name like De’Ath I thought you would have favoured the French and English spelling of Sabre, rather than the American saber?!

  4. John Southall says:

    As regards “wax capsule” seals, I was disappointed to discover a case of Sancerre, of which I had taken delivery, was blessed with these confounded, outdated abominations.
    Having made a mess in the kitchen with the first one, and not wanting to be caught short mid-evening over Christmas, I took the other eleven into the garage for a serious, focused, de-waxing operation.
    Having made an unwelcome mess, even for a garage, and chipped the glass necks of three bottles, I let the Society know my views. I will not buy any more wax-sealed wine, and the sooner this “market resistance” gets fed back to producers, the better for all of us.
    I have read the advice from Mark Buckenham of The Society, and I can only respond that he tells us how to deal with the mess. There seems to be no way of avoiding the mess altogether.
    And do wax seals provide a benefit exclusive to them? No! Give me a screw top anyday (for 95% of white wines, at least), and I`ll play “corked roulette” with old fashioned corks for the other 5%.

  5. Trevor Sharot says:

    D. Pedro López de Heredia wrote this in December 1985 (the translation is mine, with the help of Google Translate):

    How do you open a bottle sealed with wax? There are two ways: either knock it off with the back of the corkscrew and then clean the remains with a clean cloth; or a quick and dirty but recommended system is to insert the corkscrew directly without removing the seal and as the cork emerges the remains of wax will come out of the way. You have to open the bottle slowly and carefully to prevent the wax falling into the bottle and then gently clean the neck of the bottle with a clean cloth from the inside out.

  6. Jethro Lee-Mahoney [No 128143] says:

    William De’Ath says he favours a saber [sic], bottom of wine glass, or a simple table knife when opening Champagne.
    Please explain how a ‘bottom of wine glass’ is used.
    And, how can a simple table knife be effectively used for show?
    Thank you and Cheers.

  7. David Jowett says:

    I am sure that I have seen that M Chapoutier suggests simply inserting the corkscrew straight through the wax and remove the cork as normal.

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