In this episode of Vin Collections Videos, entitled Bottle Battles - Round 5 we successfully improvised a set of port tongs. The key is to get the wire extremely (red) hot and the towel very cold (it actually had ice wrapped inside it).
Again, safety equipment is recommended.
Port tongs are typically used to open ancient bottles of port which have corks that are too fragile to extract with standard cork-removal methods. In general, the tongs are difficult to find and can easily be mistaken for some sort of medieval torture tool. However, they are infinitely preferable to having moldy cork in your vintage port. If you cannot find a set of tongs to purchase, you can easily replicate them in the manner which we demonstrate.
We used a 1/8 inch non-coated steel wire which we purchased at a local hardware store. The length of the wire was approximately 30 inches. We first bent the wire in half and coiled it in the middle to create a small loop. When we were done it resembled the spring portion of a safety pin.
Using a heating element (in this case a gas stove) we heated the coil until it was glowing. Quickly looping it over the top of the bottle, Levi pulled the two ends straight and held it in place as tight as he could for a few seconds. Levi then released the tension and let it drop around the base of the neck. Jesse quickly wrapped the ice-filled towel around the bottle and the neck easily and cleanly broke off.
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