How to Open a Large Format Bottle

When we posted about our article ‘Magnums: An Investment for the Future’ last week we were asked a really great question – How do you open a Magnum (or larger) at a function and maintain composure?

Below we aim to answer that very question with advice from our Wine Club Manager – David Stredwick.

Prior to Opening:

It is always best to store magnums and large formats that do have corks on their side so that the cork doesn’t dry out as dry corks are more prone to crumbling upon opening. That being said, preferably you should stand the bottle vertical at least 48 hours prior to opening. This allows the sediment to settle to the bottom.


First up, are you opening a cork Magnum or a screwcap? At Howard Park we started screw-capping our red wines from 2004 onwards and then Riesling from 2010 onwards. The latter option is obviously a tad easier to manage but the cork option is nothing to fear!

The nice thing about Magnums is they have the same neck size and use the same cork size as a regular bottle so opening these with a regular corkscrew is generally no different a proposition to a 750mL bottle.

For the larger bottles of 3 Litres plus they do have wider corks and necks, the best kind of screw for these is either the traditional “waiters friend” and just proceed carefully and try and get the screw nicely into the centre of the cork before levering up.

Or, there is a specialist corkscrew call the ‘Ah-so’ (pictured below). It has two metal prongs of different lengths that can be inserted between the outside of the cork and the inside of the bottle neck and the cork can be gently twisted and pulled up.

Personally, I would recommend using the type of corkscrew I am most confident with.

Image: Sourced from MONOPOL


Once opened, I’d recommend pouring the wine into decanters and then into glasses. It is much much easier than trying to pour straight into glasses, especially from the full bottle.  Cradle the wine while pouring with one hand around the base for the best control.

For the really big magnums there are specialised cradles that can hold the bottle and assist with pouring.

Once the wine has been decantered then place the bottle on the table for that extra WOW factor at a special occasion! And enjoy the wine.

You Tube video of David Stredwick opening bottle can be found here:

Purchase Magnums here. Or call the winery on 08 9756 9600 to enquire about large format bottles available.