Traditionally, wine comes in a glass bottle,
the open end of which is sealed
by a piece
of cork tree bark shaped into
about a three quarters of an
inch in diameter
and up to two inches long. Because
unique seal, corkscrews are the
tool of choice
for opening wine. There are a
types of corkscrews, each with
its own advantages
- Simple corkscrews have a sharpened, coiled wire, called a
worm, which screws into the cork when twisting
the bar into which worm is embedded. Once
the corkscrew is firmly set into the cork.
brute force pulls the cork up and out of
the bottle. This type can be of ordinary
plastic or have an extremely elaborate and
decorative handle. One of the most popular
styles uses a several inch long portion of
a vine branch, and many of these are commemorative.
- Waiter or wine steward corkscrews are the most common and least expensive.
They derive their name from their frequent
association with restaurant waiters and rely
on simple leverage against the rim of the
bottle to pull the cork out. They consist
of a worm, to dig into the cork, an extending
arm to provide a lifting point against the
bottle, and a foil knife, much like a small
pocket knife, to cut the foil capsule that
normally protects the cork and decorates
the top of the bottle. Make sure the worm
is an open coil wide enough to receive a
paper match head and close to two inches
long so that you can get a good grip on stubborn
or deteriorating corks. This simple design
makes it readily adaptable to small and large
bottles, where the increased diameter of
the neck of the bottle and its cork may be
too large for corkscrews that slip over the
neck of the bottle. It's ideal for taking
along on picnics or travel (though not by
- Winged corkscrews have a housing that sits on top of the bottle,
a worm that twists into the cork, and two
arms that rise as the worm works into the
cork. Pushing down on the raised wings employs
the advantages of a lever to pull the cork
from the bottle. Because of the increase
in strength provided by the levers, winged
corkscrews can make it easier to extract
tight corks. Look for models with a coil
rather than an augur style worm because the
solid augur is harder to drive into the cork
and does it far more damage, which may lead
to more cork residue in the wine or may destroy
a fragile old cork.
- Screwpull is a brand name corkscrew that popularized
the innovative lining of the worm with a
slick coating that greatly eases the insertion
of the worm into the cork and a plastic harness
that drops over the top of the bottle for
sure footing. The corkscrew works by continuous
turning of the worm so that it first penetrates,
then lifts out the cork by rotation, and
employs the mechanical advantage of the screw
to gently, but firmly, extract the cork.
No one with more than a passing interest
in wine should be without one.
- Rabbit corkscrews earned their name from their appearance.
The corkscrew has two arms, which look like
rabbit ears, that work like pliers to close
a tight grip on the neck of the bottle. A
third lever then drives the worm and extracts
the cork. Because of the firmness of the
grip and long lever used to pull the cork,
these corkscrews can make short work of bottles
that stymie any of the other corkscrews.
Rabbits are for serious collectors that uncork
a lot of bottles and come in either hand
held or wall and table (or bar) mount versions.
An alternative to these five types of traditional
corkscrews is the cork puller.