Eleven Madison Park posted a video on Instagram showing the world how they open vintage port bottles, and it’s nothing short of the drama that you would expect whilst dining at one of the world’s best restaurants.
We've actually seen this one before, but great tricks like these never get old. In their latest Instagram video, one of the staff at the New York institution is seen heating up a pair of port tongs over a single gas burner, which she then places around the neck of the bottle of a 2014 Domain Les Mille Vignes (which we couldn't help but notice actually happens to be a vintage Grenache noir, not port). After a few seconds the hot tongs are removed and the bottle is given a once-over with a wet brush. She swiftly snaps off the top part of the bottleneck which comes off clean. No glass, no jaggered edges, no mess.
We adopted the old technique of using a port tong because opening port wine with an everyday wine key was practically impossible. With Port, it’s aged in the cellar for years and over time the sugar seals the cork shut. This technique allowed us to remove the cork altogether in a seamless and admittedly pretty cool way.
A post shared by elevenmadisonpark (@elevenmadisonpark) on Mar 24, 2019 at 8:23am PDT
A lot of comments on the video refer to the small copper saucepan which she heats up on the same flame. The saucepan holds silver wax that is first melted, that is used to seal the ends of the broken-off bottleneck. One end is imprinted with the logo of Eleven Madison Park. We assume that if you are spending hundreds of dollars on a bottle on your special night, you may like to take a piece of it away with you.
Why does port get this special treatment? The port tong technique is not specifically reserved for port wines but it is used more commonly due to port's higher alcohol and sugar content that tends to break down the cork faster than traditional wines. Add to this the vintage factor, where good ports can be aged for decades before being opened for consumption.