Roy Hersh – “I love this device!”

I realize it is late, but I stay up and frequently converse with Portugal at this time, as people are just getting into work.

Anyway, tonight I have a Port & Douro wine proprietor coming to dinner at my home. I’ve never met her before or been to the property, yet she reached out and I am thrilled to be able to open some great bottles and spend some serious time in the kitchen later in the day.

I was just in the cellar lining up the bottles to pair with the different courses, a fairly easy exercise, none of which will be from her property as I don’t do that, although I will open wine from some of her friendly competitors.

I then chose the Port I wanted to share at the end of our evening and for a good reason (her first time here). It is a bottle of 1970 Taylor Vintage Port. It was bottled in Oporto, not a UK bottling. I’ve owned this batch for 23-25 years now, having bought it several years after starting my collection when I was 25. There’s a heavy black waxed capsule and a few whacks with the back of an Ah-So and it was off and I cleaned up the mess and felt with something this young, an Ah-So would be good enough (Monopol).

The top of the cork was clearly “spongy” but not really wet, but some moisture was held within it. As I carefully applied the longer of the two tines I was concerned, but when the second one went in about 1/4″ and now both were in, I began to rock it gently back and forth, as I am quite adept with this tool having used several of them for ages.

Almost immediately the cork started to move downwards and it was 100% clear to me that if I continued, this cork was heading into the Port at some point. It had only slid down about 1/4″ or so and I gently removed the Ah-So and went to my office and retrieved The Durand.

I slowly screwed in the worm and as it “caught” and the metal met the top of the bottle, it formed a very secure bridge and actually brought the cork back up to the top level of the aperture of the bottle. Bravo.

It held the cork firmly in place and prevented it from slipping in. Time for part II. I then took the Ah-So that it comes with, and inserted it gently and rocked it until it was fully on either side the length of the cork and resting atop of the corkscrew piece. Slowly and gently twisting it out I could feel how soft this cork really was and noticed it had fractured about 1/3 of an inch from the bottom.

I could also feel the entire cork was really spongy and damp throughout. I could see pieces around the fracture crumbling but I was able to wrap my fingers around it to prevent any from falling into the bottle, although a few tiny pieces stuck to the inside of the upper neck of the bottle.

I had removed the entire cork successfully and knew this: with an Ah-So, the cork would have been swimming in the top of the VP. With a corkscrew, it would have broken and certainly pieces that were crumbling, would have wound up in my Port.

The Durand, not a speck of cork touched the wine. I love this device!

The bottle is now resting in my cellar and when I wake up, I will decant it a few hours later about 11 a.m. – noon for a 9-10 p.m. drink with my guests. I can’t wait!

Roy Hersh