How to Open a Wax-Sealed Wine Bottle

by Kelvin Teo | Last Updated: August 31, 2022

Not all wine bottles are sealed with wax, but those that are, are often worth the trouble because they are usually reserved for high-end wines.

And although you may be comfortable removing a cork from a bottle, working your way around a wax seal is not intuitive — it is a bit more complicated than you think, especially if you don’t want to make a mess.

If you’re reading this, chances are, you may already have a bottle with a wax seal in hand. This article will show you how to properly open a wax-sealed wine bottle for a good drinking experience.

Why Are Some Bottles Sealed with Wax?

Let’s start with the most obvious question: why is your bottle of wine sealed with wax?

A wax seal is a reliable way of keeping air from damaging the bottle’s contents. A wax seal is even more air-tight than a cork alone. Of course, corks are much more reliable today than corks used a few centuries ago, so wax seals are not really needed to keep the wine in good shape.

Wax is now an aesthetic choice, usually reserved for fine wine, and it’s commonly seen in wines with lengthy cellaring potential.

How to Remove Wax Seals from a Bottle

Wax seals with a tab. Before you start chipping that wax to reveal the cork (something you shouldn’t do, anyway), see if the wax seal in your bottle comes with a tab. It might not be easy to spot, but many bottles come with a tab not dissimilar to the ones used in sparkling wine.

The tab lets you pull off the wax seal whole, exposing the cork beneath it. Sometimes, this closure type isn’t natural wax but soft plastic. If your wax seal comes with a tab, you’re in luck.

Wax seals without a tab. If your bottle of wine comes with an actual wax seal and has no tab, you’ll have to be a bit more creative. Most of the time, the easiest way of removing a wax seal is by pretending it isn’t there.

Use a waiter’s friend corkscrew and remove the cork like you would with any other bottle. The wax will snap right off. Contrary to common belief, there’s rarely a need to warm or melt the wax to remove it. In fact, you want it solid so that it can crack easier.

You might need to brush crumbled wax before pulling out the cork to prevent it from falling into the bottle. If a wax seal is hard to penetrate with the corkscrew’s worm or screw, try removing the top wax layer with its blade.

Don’t Fear the Wax

Wax seals might not do extra in terms of preserving the wine, as cork closures and other alternatives are very good at keeping your bottle safe, this doesn’t mean wax won’t add to your experience. Wax-sealed bottles are beautiful!

Now you know how to remove the wax fast and efficiently, so don’t fear the wax — embrace it!

Kelvin Teo founded Filled With Wine™ because one summer night, he noticed that his glass of wine tasted funny. It was only after he discovered that he stored his bottle wrongly that he realised the importance of proper wine storage. Since then, he has taken the art of wine drinking seriously and is now on a quest to help fellow wine lovers achieve the best drinking experience possible.