After reaching my limit of emails that said, “So-and-so wants you to like a page on Facebook,” I finally got around to telling Facebook: STOP SENDING ME EMAIL. NO EMAIL EVER AGAIN. I HATE YOU. Oddly enough, this has resulted in me checking FB more than I used to, and so I saw this there:
“So, odd fan question….I love the Dragaera novels, but I gotta ask: How is a feather used in serving wine? Is it an actual feather, or is there some kind of utensil named that? Is it just dipped in to check the consistency or temperature or something? I’ve tried searching for references and am coming up blank! Maybe it’s just a Dragaeran/Fenarian custom?”
I should let DDB answer this, because he’s the one who first told me about it But never mind. It is, in fact, something still done today, in the here and now, with very old bottles of wine (especially port) where one fears the cork has gone rotten. It came up when I was doing early worldbuilding, and decided that Cork Oak doesn’t grow on Dragaera–so what would they do? Cheap wine, of course, is filled with wax plugs. But what do you do with the good stuff? One reasonable answer is: After bottling, you melt the glass on top and seal it that way. But then, how do you open it? Here is the procedure:
Requirements: Ice water, feather, metal tongs (in fact, there are special tongs made for this, called, of course, port tongs), heat source (such as a brazier).
Heat the tongs. A lot. So they’re, like, really really hot.
Hold the tongs to the neck of the wine bottle until very hot.
Dip the feather in the ice water, and quickly circumscribe the neck of the bottle.
Remove the top of the bottle.
I’m kinda smug at how much of it I got right before seeing the video.
To quote the Flying Karamzov Brothers: And it’s just! that easy.