Traditional Methods of Use
As port ages in the bottle it is not uncommon for a cork to dry out in the center. Port Tongs were thought to be a viable method to access the port without disturbing the cork.
The tongs were heated for 1 - 2 minutes in a fire. Often using a gas stove top, a fireplace, or a grill.
Once quite hot, they would be carefully removed from the fire and placed around the neck of the bottle, below the cork, and clamped there for roughly 10-20 seconds. If hot enough it wasn’t uncommon for the tongs to seem to stick to the glass bottle.
The tongs were then opened and removed from the neck of the bottle and placed in a safe place - away from children, pets, or anything that could be damaged or injured by the heat. Often near the original source of the fire was the ideal place to allow them to cool. They could also be placed in a bowl of cold water to hasten the cooling process.
Once the tongs were removed one would quickly place a cloth or a feather, soaked in cold water, around the neck of the bottle and the temperature variation would cleanly separate the neck from the bottle.
Using a very fine mesh filter or cheese cloth to filter the liquid into a decanter helped to ensure that no glass particles are in the liquid.
Common sense and care should be taken with this item at all times.