All sorts of people, from the connoisseur to the casual drinker, will find themselves in need of a good wine opener. With so many to choose from, it is almost hard to believe that so many disparate devices all perform the same function. In their function, they are similar, but each design uses slightly different mechanics to remove a cork.
Perhaps you have seen a waiter’s corkscrew. It folds up like a pocket knife and has a corkscrew that you manually guide into the cork. It also has a little lever arm, and when the screw is in deep enough you rest this arm against the side of the bottle. Then, you can use this leverage to lift the body of the corkscrew away from the bottle, pulling the cork with it.
In the hands of a skilled user, a quality waiter’s corkscrew works quite well. It also has the advantage of being quite easy to carry around. Quality models also have a small knife with which to cut the foil off the top of a bottle.
For some people, working the waiter’s corkscrew in at a proper angle can be difficult. Also, securely seating the lever can be tricky. For them, perhaps a winged corkscrew would be preferable.
This type of opener has two levers that rise out from either side as the screw is worked downward. Working the screw perfectly down into the cork is easier because it is mounted to the device. As long as the opener is properly set atop the bottle, the screw is vertically oriented and the user need only turn the handle on top in order to drive it straight down.
If that is still not reliable enough, perhaps you are interested in a table-mounted device. For high volume restaurants or people who simply value ease of use, these workhorse devices might be a good choice. These openers remain stationary while the bottle comes to them. The user simply places the bottle in the proper spot and the device will both insert the screw and pull the cork. Some of them are motorized so all you need to do is press a button.
Another high tech device barely uses any moving parts at all. CO2 openers use pressurized gas to force the cork out. A hollow, thin needle gets pushed through the cork until its tip protrudes inside the bottle. Gas is injected into the bottle which forces the cork out.
On the other hand, there is also a minimalist type of opener called the screw-pull. It has no moving parts and is merely a screw with a handle on top. Travel models can be collapsed into something the size of a thick pen. These are great to keep on hand in your luggage, but what they gain in portability is sacrificed in usability. Still, it is better than being caught without one.
No matter which wine opener sounds right to you, try to have on on hand. It is a major letdown to get stuck with a bottle you wish to drink but have no way to open. A little preparation will keep your evening on track.
Nick Parker owns a best wine opener blog. There are many reviews in his blog including those for Screwpull wine openers, Metrokane wine openers, and Oster wine openers.