Read this tip to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Wine Accessories and other Wines topics.
Perhaps the most important wine accessory is the corkscrew. Here is a breakdown of the kinds of corkscrews out there so you have the proper knowledge before making your choice. Lever style: you clamp the opener on the bottle and let the levers do all the work. This one is quick and easy to use, but expensive and bulky. You can generally buy one of these for between $30 and $150. It works on all sizes and types of wine bottles. Waiter: Use the serrated knife blade to remove the foil on top, insert the screw and pull the cork out. Many upscale restaurants prefer their waitstaff use the double hinged system that catches the lip of the bottle twice as the cork is pulled out. This is slim and efficient, but takes some practice to use correctly. They range from $5 to $30. Watch out for inexpensive ones, which can have dull knives and worms that bend inside the cork. Twisting pull: A circular rim is placed over the lip of the bottle that centers the worm (screw) over the cork. As you twist the handle on the corkscrew, the corkscrew is braced against the bottle and the cork begins to emerge from the bottle as you twist. These are generally less than $50 and reliable. Cheaper ones have higher rates of destroying the cork. Winged: As you turn the corkscrew the wings lift higher and higher. When you think you have drilled the worm into the corkscrew far enough, you grasp the wings and slowly bring them toward the bottle. This action causes the cork to pull out of the bottle. This reasonably priced corkscrew (you can get one for less than $10) is usually reliable unless the worm isn't far enough into the cork. However, if the worm goes past the bottom of the cork, cork fragments can get into the wine. Cheap models with weak worms will not lift the cork out of the bottle. Two-pronged: There are two slim metal prongs you enter into opposite sides of the cork in the bottle. Enter the longer prong first, then rock the device back and forth slightly until the prongs are fully entered. Gently pull up with a little twist, or rocking motion. You can buy one of these for $10. The slim tool puts no hole into the cork, so there is little chance of broken cork getting into your wine. It works especially well with an aged bottle of wine whose cork has deteriorated. However, it can be hard to use and the prongs can be bent out of shape. Pump: These insert a long needle through the cork into the air space above the wine. It works by forcing air between the space in the bottle of wine between the cork and the wine. As you pump the device, air pressure forces the cork out of the bottle. There are good ones on the market for in the $20 range. Some experts caution that forcing air into the wine bottle is not good for the wine. Stationary: This one uncorks with just a pull of the handle and mounts elegantly to your bar or table stand. It opens all sizes and types of wine bottles including flange tops. It can also come with a stand. These can cost $25 to $100. If you have a wine cellar, perhaps you want to go a step further than the corkscrew and buy an uncorking machine. Uncorking machines: with the simple pull of a lever in one direction, you will be able to twist the corkscrew in, and then pull it out of the bottle. Reverse direction and the cork will spit out and you are ready to do it again. The entire process takes less than 10 seconds. The design of these machines makes opening wine not only efficient, but also impressive. This is an easy - but not cheap - solution to opening your bottles. Expect to pay more than $100 for the most basic model that clamps to a tabletop. And for advanced models the price can exceed $500.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|