A Port Garrotte is a modern version of Port Tongs. The garrotte uses the same principle: a hot metal loop, placed around the neck of a bottle just beneath the cork, heats a narrow band of glass. A cold wet cloth is then placed around the neck to rapidly cool the glass and thereby crack the neck of the bottle.
This technique has been reliable on Port bottles, but many other wine bottles are not easily opened in this manner.
The Port Garrotte is a 20" loop of twisted steel cable with a wooden handle on each end and a metal ring holding the loop in formation.
- 1.25" diameter hardwood dowel rod (10" minimum length)
- 0.5" diameter dowel rod (2" minimum)
- 3/16" diameter uncoated twisted steel cable (20-22" length)
- Two aluminum steel cable crimps for 3/16" cable
- One uncoated steel ring (1.5" in diameter) or oval (2" long, 1" wide), ideally welded. If using an oval, it should not have an open join at an end.
Vice, Saw, Hand drill, .5" drill bit, .25" drill bit, Sand paper, Hammer, Anvil or striking plate, Wood glue,
Handle (do twice):
- Cut 5" from the 1.25" diameter dowel rod
- Bore out with a 0.5" bit, to a depth of 3.5"
- Turn over and bore out with a .25" bit, to a depth of 1.5" (or until the bore holes connect)
- Sand to desired smoothness
- Slide one end of the cable into the .25" hole on a handle, then slide on a crimp .5"-1" from that end.
- Flatten the crimp with a hammer until firm and not more than .5" wide. Hammer the handle-facing corners of the crimp flat, and fray the end of the cable by untwisting with a pair of pliers.
- Pull the cable into the handle until the fitting is snug and there is gap of at least 1" between the end of the cable and the end of the handle. TIP: If the crimp does not fit into the handle, use the .25" bit to widen the handle's hole, or hammer the fitting a little narrower, or use a small bolt to hammer the fitting into the handle. The cable is very difficult to cut, and cutting it should be a last resort.
- Slide the ring (or oval) over the exposed section of cable, then loop the cable back through the ring and into the .25" hole on the second handle.
- Slide a crimp onto the cable, .5"-1" from that end, then repeat steps 2 and 3.
- Cut two 1" lengths from a .5" dowel rod (shorter, if the end of the cable is not at least 1" deep within the handles). Apply wood glue to the inside of the handle, and insert the piece of dowel rod until flush. Allow to dry, then fill in gaps with extra wood glue (and allow to dry).
- Sand down the end of the handles.
- a bowl
- a bottle
- a gas range
- a towel
- a flashlight
- Remove the capsule and tax tag from the bottle. Using the flashlight, identify the location of the bottom of the cork.
- Place the bottle in a bowl.
- Wet the towel with ice-cold water.
- Heat the center 6" of the cable to glowing-red on the range. Put the cable just in the tips of the gas range's blue flames, the flames will turn orange above the garrotte if it's heating properly. Use the handles to curve and position the cable.
- Quickly remove the garrotte from the gas range and loop over the neck of the bottle, just below the cork. Pull the garrotte tight and hold for 20 seconds (until the glow fades).
- Remove the garrotte and place on a heat-resistant surface. Wrap the neck of the bottle with the cold cloth. A sharp cracking sound should be audible.
- Remove the cloth. If the neck of the bottle is not free, bend the neck slightly to free it.
- Filter the wine when decanting to ensure no glass shards fell into the bottle.