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The Great Corkscrew Comparison

Which wine opener works best? We asked an expert

close-up of corkscrew spiral

Glasshouse Images/Getty Images

Unless you’re practiced, getting a cork out of a wine bottle can be hard. Does the type of opener make a difference? We asked Kevin Zraly, an award-winning wine expert and the author of Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, to test five models. 

Electric corkscrew

Jeff Elkins

Electric Corkscrew

Pros: “Holding the bottle and the corkscrew is comfortable. This is easy and efficient. I push ‘Remove’ and it stops when the cork comes out. Pushing ‘Eject’ removes the cork from the screw. This is good for a banquet. I know servers who’ve gotten carpal tunnel.”

Cons: “This has to be charged. The foil cutter is separate and designed to remove foil the French way [at the upper lip]. I like to remove it the Kevin way [below the lip, ensuring no foil touches the wine]. You turn the bottle with this cutter. I wouldn’t use it on a wine that has sediment.”

bunny ears corkscrew

Jeff Elkins

Lever, or "Bunny Ears," Corkscrew

Pros: “Pushing down the lever doesn’t require a lot of strength. You don’t have to take the cork off the screw.” 

 

Con: "The separate foil cutter isn’t intuitive to use."

waiter's corkscrew

Jeff Elkins

Waiter's Corkscrew (aka Wine Key)

Pros: “This is what professionals use. The long screw and two levels of prongs are key to getting the cork all the way out. It’s so easy. This is heavy and will last.” 

Con: “This particular model is expensive.”  

Verdict: Top Choice!

winged corkscrew

Jeff Elkins

Winged Corkscrew

Pros: “This is in everyone’s kitchen drawer. Twist once, bring the cork up partway, twist again, wiggle it out. Easy and efficient. Spend about $20 to get a sturdy one with a long screw.”

Con: "It doesn’t come with a foil cutter."

pocketknife corkscrew

Jeff Elkins

Pocketknife Corkscrew

Pros: “The size is convenient for travel. The foil cutter is very sharp.” 

Cons: “The short screw is too small. This won’t work on a really good bottle. Plus, watch what I gotta do [he squeezes the bottle between his legs to stabilize it]. No good for an older person. I’m afraid to do it. [To his assistant:] You wanna try?”

screw top wine bottles

Getty Images

Bonus: Screw Cap (no cork, no screw)

Pro: “Screw it off. Nothing to it. There are $50 wines with screw caps. Top restaurants serve them. They eliminate the problem of a cork going bad. I recently opened a Puligny-Montrachet. The cork smelled like wet cardboard.” 

Con: “When you’re presented with a bottle at a restaurant, they say, ‘Here’s the cork.’ If they hand you the screw cap, don’t sniff it.” 

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