The Best Wine Opener

12 Sep

For years, when tasked with opening a bottle of wine, I used that bad boy on the left.  It’s compact, it’s fairly straightforward to use in terms of technique, and it’s highly durable.  The only problem I have ever had with it has arisen when encountering a bottle of wine with a particularly stubborn cork.  On more than one occasion, I have managed to break a cork in half, which, though certainly not the end of the world, is at the very least a mild annoyance.

The corkscrew on the right is what I believe people refer to as a locking top wine opener.  It is the best wine opener I have ever used in my life, hands down.

But, wait.  Let me back up a bit.

During all the years I was using my $5 corkscrew pictured above on the left, I was constantly being given bigger, fancier corkscrews by people who thought that I was perhaps clinging to my simple corkscrew out of a sense of duty or frugality (it wasn’t broken, so why replace it?).  Every corkscrew I received, I then tried, and many of them I actually liked.  The problem was, every single one of them—and I really to mean every single one—broke within a few months, or perhaps even a full year, of use.  The one with the wings on the side that leveraged the cork out of the bottle?  Broke.  The ultra-fancy one that had two different handles, a lever, and came with its own display case?  Broke.  The one that came with a special foil cutter and had the unfortunate look of a tool one would find in a dentist’s office?  Both items broke.  So, it was back to me and my simple corkscrew that sometimes broke stuff and made my wine a little more textured than I desired.

And then one Christmas a few years ago, my husband and I were given this wine opener (perhaps by a relative?  I am guessing an uncle?  I don’t know.  My husband has a big family, and there are a lot of uncles floating around in there).

At first, not recognizing it as any wine opener I had ever used before, I resisted it.  It required too much fiddling and fussing, I complained, and it bore a strange resemblance to the vise in my dad’s workshop that used to pinch my fingers all the time when I was a kid (which was entirely my fault because I could never stop fiddling around with the lever on the vise, but whatever).  No, I declared, I will not be needing that, thank you.  But then time wore on, we moved, and I momentarily lost my old corkscrew.  With a bottle of wine waiting to be opened, the time had come.  I could not avoid it any longer.  I had to use the vise-looking corkscrew.

Here is how it is done.

You place the base of the opener over the cork:

If the tab on top of the opener is positioned with the hole facing up,

you flip the tab about 90 degrees so the opening is facing the side and the solid portion is on top:

With one hand you hold the base of the opener on top of the bottle, and with the other hand you turn the handle of the opener in a clockwise direction.  This will force the corkscrew into the cork:

When the corkscrew has been driven all the way into the cork, the tab on top flips back over so the hole is now facing up:

Then you just keep turning the handle clockwise and behold!

The opposite end of the corkscrew comes up through the hole in the tab,

freeing your cork from the bottle in the process:

To free the cork, flip the tab to the side once more, then turn the handle counterclockwise, unscrewing the cork:

This corkscrew works like magic every single time.  After the first time I used it, chastened, I swore my allegiance to it almost immediately.  I still keep the other corkscrew around (you know, for additional wine-opening emergencies), but for my general wine-opening duties, this corkscrew can’t be beat.

Now, here comes the sad part.  I have no idea where it came from.  I’d love to tell you where you can find your own magical wine opener, but when I tried to research places one could buy this type of wine opener, all I could find were collector guides to antique locking top wine openers from Europe.  (This, incidentally, evolved into a rather fascinating afternoon for me, as I came across page after page of great examples of vintage wine openers.  I highly recommend checking those out.)

So, if you are reading this, Uncles of My Husband, perhaps you might enlighten us as to where you procured such a fantastic wine opener?  Just in case I might someday feel the need to get a backup wine opener for my backup wine opener.  Because I am like that.

7 Responses to “The Best Wine Opener”

  1. Nancy September 12, 2011 at 8:03 am #

    Oh, Elizabeth, reading this is a great way to start my day! I love your humor! I even thought you had created a great new way to refer to one’s husband, “that bad boy on the left” – you know, sort of like “my old man” (which I have never liked). I think I read it that way because the photo didn’t come up right away on e-mail. Not my fault – but maybe I can use it anyway??
    Uncles, yes (but not this one), but maybe also aunts – Katie or Mimi. Every so often I hear Cam and family refer to Mimi’s shopping prowess, and who else would give me an Elvis apron?

  2. Edward R. McClelland III October 17, 2011 at 4:38 pm #


    I also conducted a search for the type of wine opener you showed above. I found a few used ones but eventually found a new one on ebay. Here is the link:

    It is a little different but I think it will work just as good.


  3. Andrew December 5, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    For anyone else who came across this post and wants to find out once and for all what that magical corkscrew is, I believe it is a “rollover” type corkscrew made by the German company Monopol. Here is an Amazon listing I found for one:

    • savorysaltysweet December 5, 2011 at 11:57 am #

      Yes! Andrew–that is perfect. Thank you so much for hunting one down. If you, or anyone else, is considering buying one, I would definitely recommend it. It truly is the best wine opened I have ever used.

  4. James Oliver January 8, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    The best corkscrew is a waiter’s cork screw, e.g. the WMF Clever and More Waiters Knife. Keep it simple!!

    And then of course there is the Bill Clinton corkscrew 🙂

    • savorysaltysweet January 8, 2012 at 11:49 am #

      My back up corkscrew is a waiter’s corkscrew (as seen in the first picture), but my vote is still going to have to go with the design on the right (perhaps called a rollover corkscrew?). As for the President Clinton design…no.

  5. SAS May 19, 2015 at 11:51 am #

    Thanks for this post. I have a vintage version of this cork screw. It was one of the few items my two siblings & I squabbled over after my dad passed away!

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