How do I open a 1955 port?
Bought this port several years ago for hubby's birthday, same year as the port. The cork looks petrified inside the neck. Any suggestions on how to get inside without unsettling the probable muck inside? Have friends with a saber...
A saber is USELESS unless you are trying to open Champagne.
Port tongs are the way to go, but only if you already own them. That is, only if you open older bottles of Porto on a regular basis. I do NOT recommend going out and buying a set just for this one bottle.
I would do the following:
1) Make sure you have the bottle standing upright for not less than one week prior to opening; two weeks may be better.
2) Carefully -- by which I mean, without shaking or disturbing the bottle -- use a regular corkscrew to extract the cork. Yes, it may crumble/disintegrate, but remove it as best you can.
3) Take a piece of cheesecloth and fold it over upon itself several times until you have at least a 4" x 4" square that is eight layers thick. Wet the cheesecloth thoroughly to rid it of any loose fibers as well as any taste of the cloth itself.
4) Place the cheesecloth into a decanting funnel, if you have one, and place the funnel into the top of a decanter. If you do not have such a funnel, place it into the neck of the decanter so that it appears much like a paper coffee filter, but HOLD ONTO IT.
5) Slowly decant the Porto through the cheesecloth, which will catch all of the fine sediment, leaving you with clear and delicious enjoyment ahead (presuming proper storage, etc., etc., etc.) and a worthy celebration!
I helped open a bottle of '55 port a couple of years ago (well, now that I think about it, it was five years ago). We ended up having to dig the cork out, but we followed Melanie Wong's suggestion and used a brand new gold-plated coffee filter to decant, and it worked perfectly. The port, BTW, was amazingly fresh for a 50-year-old. But then, as you probably know, 1955 was one of the best port vintages of the last century. Enjoy!