Bottle openers

Given wine’s history, you’d think best way to pull cork was solved. Not so.

Hundreds insist they make a better opener—with prices from a buck to well north of $100. General categories:

• Single-lever “waiter’s friend.” Worm twists into cork; hinged lever pulls it. Pro: simple, dependable. Con: requires practice, muscle on tight corks.

• Continuous turners. Cork climbs thin worm you rotate until cork is free. Pro: affordable, easy to use. Con: often dislodges divot of cork into wine when worm pierces cork’s bottom.

• Rabbit. “Rabbit ears” clamp bottle, lever pushes worm into cork, reverses to pull cork. Pro: quick, easy. Con: expensive, can be difficult to free cork from worm, durability issues.

• Winged lever. Worm twists into cork, raising levers; pressure on levers pulls cork. Pro: cheap, easy to use. Con: mangles cork, difficult with synthetic corks, durability issues.

• Uncorking machines. Typically, worm/lever mounted on table/bar. Pro: fast, easy to use. Con: large, fixed in one place, expensive.

• “Ah-So”—two thin metal prongs of uneven length. Work prongs between cork and bottle, twist, lift cork. Pro: good for delicate or damaged corks. Con: slow, baffles beginners who end up shoving cork into the bottle.

• Gas openers. Insert needle, inject gas, eject cork. Pro: flashy gimmick. Con: needle insertion difficult; gas charges cost money; use incorrectly, bottle explodes.


• Kim Crawford Marlborough Pinot Gris. Pear, quince, lime; ripe, intense. Australia. $19

• Ramspeck Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Big nose, ample body, dark color. California. $20

• Pinot Evil Vin de Pays Pinot Noir. Value wine from Corisca, France. $9