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I used to work in fairly fine dining restaurants, so I know some about wine. The problem I'm looking at is my step-father has an impressive cellar, but some of the wines are rather aged. I think last Christmas we had a couple bottles of 1982 Château Lafite Rothschild or similar. I have no idea why he would waste that bottle of wine on my plebeian tastes, but he does.

The problem is the corks are really starting to go (the bottom of the cork is breaking down, but not rotten). He will spend about 30 minutes finessing the wine key (corkscrew) into the cork and wrestling it out. Invariably, the bottom of the cork will break and fall into the bottle. It doesn't affect drinkability, but we have to hear him rant about it until he's fished every piece of cork out before pouring into the decanter.

I thought about getting him a gas injection wine opener. It looks like most of these are based on nitrous oxide or argon gas, which wouldn't affect the wine in any way.

My question is: Would the needle used to inject the gas into the bottle be able to penetrate the cork but at the same time not break out the bottom of the cork that's in the condition I've described. Or, are these contraptions just gimmicks for the plebs like me?

NOTE: I realize that him opening the wine might be part of his presentation.

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    I think another option is the Ah-So type puller which is supposed to do a good job with weak corks. amazon.com/s/…
    – Eric S
    Sep 25 '20 at 23:37
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A needle will definitely damage the cork less than a corkscrew will. But a significantly deteriorated cork may drop some pieces into the wine regardless of how it's removed. I've had great experiences with the gas-injection wine pourers, but I haven't seen or used a gas-injection wine opener.

I'll echo the recommendations for an Ah-So style wine opener, which might be preferred by someone with more traditional tastes. Combine that with a low-profile stainless steel wine strainer (Rabbit makes a good one) for when the wine is corked.

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It would probably work just fine, but is also probably overkill. As Eric S. mentioned in the comment, I would use an Ah-So. I routinely use mine in for wines that are over a decade old. In fact, I have some wine from specific vintners that I know the corks are going to fall apart if I use a corkscrew (from repeated experience where this is exactly what happened) so I simply always use my Ah-So with them and it gets the corks out cleanly and easily every time.

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I never used such a bottle opener myself, but there are wine bars (for example Le Millésime in Bordeaux) that use such opening systems to be able to serve wines such as old vintages from Château Cheval Blanc by the glas.

So I think this shouldn't be a problem.

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    There are two different gas injection systems. One injects gas which then pushes out the cork. The other injects gas which pushes out wine through a needle. I think you are referring to the second where as the OP is asking about the first.
    – Eric S
    Sep 25 '20 at 23:34
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If he likes the show of using the regular corkscrew (I like the waiter's friend myself) but you don't want to wait for all of the cork flotsam to be "fished out," what not get him a Filter? He can open the wine normally and then pour it through into the decanter while catching any cork pieces that are in the bottle.

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My thought is to buy a new cork that is top of the line and made to last for a long time. Then inject pure argon into the bottle before putting the cork into it. In the wine industry, pure argon is often used to top off barrels and vessels containing wine. Look up a local amateur wine making club and you will be sure to find somebody wanting to help the cause.

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