The Waiter’s Friend
This is the most commonly used corkscrew in restaurants. A good one will have a blade for cutting the foil and a lever for easier opening. While many oenophiles have a deep attachment to these wine bottle openers, using it can take a lot of practice and a fair amount of muscle, especially if you’re dealing with synthetic corks.
The Professional Waiter’s Corkscrew by Pulltap is a classic choice. A variation of this model is the Double Hinged Waiter’s Corkscrew. This line of wine bottle openers has a lever that can be elongated for continued mechanical advantage after the cork is halfway out, which is great for long or stubborn corks. A foldout foil cutter is also included.
How to Open a Bottle of Wine: To use this corkscrew simply cut the foil with the blade under the second lip of the bottle. Next, center the point of the corkscrew in the middle of the cork and give it a firm turn to anchor the worm. Turn the corkscrew gently and firmly without pressing down, until the worm has been inserted entirely (depending on cork length, this will vary). Place the lever on the lip of the bottle and pull up slowly and firmly.
The Ah-so or Butler’s Friend
The ah-so wine bottle opener is affordably priced but tricky to use. With this wine opener, you have to slide two thin strips of metal between the cork and the glass, then twist and pull to extract the cork. This takes practice and can be frustrating, but the corks can be re-used (so you don’t have to use a stopper), and it’s helpful when removing fragile, dry or damaged corks.
How to Open a Bottle of Wine: To use this wine opener, insert the longer prong of the ah-so between the cork and the bottle and, while applying slight downward pressure, rock the prong back and forth until the shorter prong can also be inserted between the cork and the bottle. Once both prongs are inserted, rock the handle from prong to prong, applying downward pressure. When the ah-so is fully inserted, simultaneously pull the handle upward and twist it to release the cork.
Continuous-Turn Wine Openers
Screwpull (now owned by Le Creuset) is one of the finest lines of wine accessories. They created the original self-pulling corkscrew in 1979, which extracts the cork in a few turns without tugging or pulling. Invented by Herbert Allen, a renowned Houston space and oil industry engineer, this wine opener has been called “simply the world’s best corkscrew”. He created the Screwpull Table Model Corkscrew, featuring a frame that helps center the spiral, and the “continuous turn” design, that evenly extracts the cork. Allen also borrowed Space technology, coating the helical screw with Teflon, to help ease it in and out of the cork.
Hailed as the first significant advance in cork extraction in 200 years, this wine opener eliminates struggling with a corkscrew, damaging the cork, or dropping the bottle. An adjustable frame adapts to fit every bottle size. The nonstick-coated helical screw ensures precise penetration through the center of cork, preventing corks from being pushed further into the bottle. It has a 5-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Lever Wine Openers
Screwpull is also the originator of another line of wine bottle openers, the lever corkscrew. Lever corkscrews effortlessly extract corks in about 3 seconds. Ergonomic handles steady the bottle and provide leverage while the cork glides out of the bottle. Screwpull’s lever models have a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty and include display stand and foil cutter.
Unfortunately for Screwpull, success breeds copycats. Screwpull has lots of competition, the most popular and successful of which is the Rabbit Lever Corkscrew. What used to sell for a premium now sells for $20.
How to Open a Bottle of Wine: Use the patented 4 wheel Foilcutter to remove the foil from the bottle with a quick twist of the wrist. Place the Lever Model in the open position. Firmly grip the bottle neck with the handles.
While keeping the handles squeezed together in this position, bring the lever slowly into the closed position. The screw is then completely inside the cork.
To remove the cork, keep the handles tight and slowly move the Lever Model back until it is in the open position. Repeat the lever procedure for removing the cork from the Leverpull.
Electric Wine Bottle Openers
The Oster 4207 Inspire is the most popular of this group of wine openers. This wine tool opens up to 30 bottles fully charged with the touch of a button. It includes a foil cutter to remove seals, and has cordless operation with recharging base included for convenience and mobility. It’s designed to fit all traditional wine bottles, and opens a wine bottle in seconds. Stylish and ergonomically designed with soft grip handle to fit in the palm of your hand.
CO2 Wine Bottle Opener
This wine tool has experienced a boost in popularity since the Cork Pops Legacy was seen on the hit television show Desperate Housewives. Called the “fastest, easiest way to open a bottle of wine”, you simply insert the needle straight down through the cork, press once on the top of the low pressure propellant cartridge, and the cork is lifted out with a celebratory “POP”! What could be easier? Each cartridge will open approximately 60-80 wine bottles before requiring replacement.
The Legacy line of wine bottle openers features a custom designed insertion guide and needle guard, a built-in 4 blade foil cutter, as well as a patented cork release feature which removes the extracted cork from the opener with a simple twisting motion.
However, unlike other wine openers it comes with the following warnings:
WARNING: Contents under pressure. KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN. Do not puncture, incinerate or store above 120°F. Do NOT use on Champagne, Sparkling, or odd-shaped bottles; including square, rectangular, mixed, i.e., square to rounded. Misuse could cause fracture. A flawed bottle could rupture. If sprayed in eyes or on skin flush with warm water. If irritation occurs, see physician. Use only as directed. Intentional misuse by deliberately concentrating and inhaling contents can be harmful or fatal. Contains R-134A.
By the way, R-134A is a refrigerant. The manufacturer states that the product does not affect the taste of the wine or harm the environment. That may be true, but taken with the other warnings these wine openers are not very appealing.