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Storing and Serving

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Choosing a Corkscrew

Ever since winemakers have been putting corks in their bottles, wine lovers have been dreaming up ways to coax the corks back out. Which is the best? It's the one you feel most comfortable and confident using.

First, however, you should consider the worm (that's wine-world terminology for the part that screws into the cork). The worm should be a helix; that is, a spiral that glides into the cork. Some inexpensive corkscrews resemble an actual screw, with a solid core and a point in the center. These can tear the cork.

While a great range of corkscrew styles have emerged over the centuries, the most practical wine-openers available today are variations on these common models:

  • Waiter's Friend: Looking like a little jackknife, with the worm folding out of one end and a tiny knife (for cutting foil capsules) folding out the other, this tool's key feature is the lever. Positioning it against the rim of the bottle gives you leverage to help ease the cork out.
  • Winged Corkscrew: With this contraption, as you twist the worm into the cork, the wings ease upward. As you push the wings back down, out comes the cork.
  • Screw-Pull: No strong-arming needed—virtually anyone can operate this model. You simply turn the handle until the worm lifts the cork into a frame that surrounds the worm.
  • Lever-Style Corkscrew: This contraption is the slickest yet. While squeezing together handles to grip the neck with one hand, you use the other hand to pull the lever over the bottle, effortlessly removing the cork.


The waiter's friend is inexpensive and compact, but requires some practice, while the winged, screw-pull and lever-style models are all very easy to maneuver. The lever-style can be most expensive; it's also clunky and takes up space in your cupboard or cabinet. However, if you often open a lot of bottles at one time for tastings and parties, it's worth the investment.

Also keep in mind that it's a good idea to have more than one style of corkscrew handy—if your favorite corkscrew fails to coax out a difficult cork, another style might be just the answer.

The Problem Cork

It happens to everyone now and then: the cork breaks in half or crumbles. What to do? First, gently unscrew the worm back out of what remains of the cork. Then, using a straightforward corkscrew such as a waiter's friend, gingerly try to screw the worm back into the meatiest (least frayed) part of the cork as far as you can. Slowly ease the cork back out.

If push comes to shove you can do just that—shove what's left of the cork into the bottle. At this point, you'll want to decant the wine into another vessel and remove any crumbles from the cork.

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