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A Guide to Corkscrew Wine Openers

Corkscrews and wine openers are a necessary part of any foodservice establishment looking to serve wine. These tools seem like a simple subject since they only have one purpose. Yet, there are many options and the choices for the consumer vary greatly. Read on to learn more about the various types of corkscrews!

Anatomy of a Corkscrew

There are many different types and styles of corkscrews. Despite their differences in styles, corkscrews generally at least have a corkscrew worm, handle, and bootlever to remove corks. Additional features, such as foil cutters and bottle cap removers are also common components found on some styles of corkscrews.

  • Corkscrew worm: a single metal helix that drives into a wine cork to remove it from the bottle. The helix grabs the cork as it is twisted in so that the cork can be fully removed from the wine bottle.
  • Corkscrew handle: provides the leverage and grip necessary to remove corks from the wine bottle. Handle styles, lengths, and materials vary greatly across the different types of corkscrews.
  • Corkscrew bootlever: provides additional leverage to pull wine corks out of wine bottles. Bootlevers are primarily found on waiter's corkscrews.
  • Foil cutter: generally small, serrated blades or wheels that are used to slice open the protective foil covering at the top of the wine bottle.
  • Bottle cap remover: transforms a corkscrew from simply being able to open wine to popping the tops off beer or soda bottles. Bottle cap removers are available on many styles of corkscrews.

What to Consider When Purchasing a Corkscrew

Ease of Use:
Franmara 5511 Bar-Pull Chrome-Plated Counter Mount Wine Bottle Opener

The first thing to take into consideration when purchasing a wine opener or corkscrew is its ease of use. A corkscrew that is hard to use may result in cork crumbs in the wine, broken corks, or you may end up unable to remove the cork. Because of this, many large operations have moved towards counter mount, wall mount, or electric corkscrews as these styles make cork removal incredibly easy for everyone.

Cost:

Smaller operations or establishments with sommeliers or staff trained in wine cork removal may opt for a pocket or waiter's corkscrew. These corkscrews are generally less expensive than other styles and are inexpensive to replace. Large, high-volume operations should consider the more expensive wall mount, counter mount, and electric corkscrews as these styles make opening many bottles at a time quick and easy, which helps recoup their cost in saved labor.
Franmara 5411 Duo-Lever Waiter's Corkscrew with Stainless Steel Body and Smart Kut Cutter

Size:

Smaller corkscrews, such as waiter's and pocket corkscrews, are a great choice for staff on the move. These corkscrews easily fit inside an apron or pants pocket and are lightweight. Larger corkscrews, such as electric, counter mount, and wall mount corkscrews, are better suited for a single location where staff carry wine bottles to the corkscrew to open them. These larger corkscrews are often faster and easier to use than smaller corkscrews.

Cork Type:
Franmara 5409 Duo-Lever Waiter's Corkscrew with Black Enamel Handle and Smart-Kut Cutter

Different types of corkscrews excel at removing different types of cork. To start, there are two types of wine corks: synthetic and natural cork. Synthetic corks are more dense than natural corks, which requires more force to twist the worm into the cork. The advantage of synthetic corks is that they are less likely to break apart during extraction. Natural corks are more brittle and sensitive to removal than synthetic corks. The advantage of natural corks is that they properly age wines stored over long periods of time.

Expert Tip

What type of corkscrew is best for removing synthetic corks?
A wing corkscrew is an excellent choice for removing synthetic corks. They provide more leverage than other types of corkscrews to make tight fitting synthetic corks easier to remove.
What type of corkscrew is best for removing natural corks?
Natural corks can become sensitive or brittle with age. Therefore, if you're opening a lot of vintage wines look to an extractor or lever style corkscrew. These types of corkscrews are less likely to break a cork apart leaving cork crumbs in your wine.

Type of Restaurant:
Franmara 2074 Rack & Pinion Vintage Style Antique Replica Corkscrew

Upscale restaurants that emphasize presentation of wines may want to go for a decorative or vintage style corkscrew because of the enhanced presentation value these corkscrews provide. Large banquet halls or wedding venues that may be opening a lot of wine bottles in a short amount of time will want to consider a wall mount or counter mount corkscrew for their speed and ease of use. Lastly, restaurants that only serve wine occasionally may want to consider a wing or waiter's corkscrew simply from a cost standpoint.

Different Types of Corkscrews

Each type of corkscrew has different advantages and while they all open wine bottles, how they are used to remove a cork varies from type to type. Below are the various types of corkscrews and their usage instructions to help determine which corkscrew is best for you. This section is ordered with the most commonly used corkscrew styles listed first.

Waiter's Corkscrews Overview

Pulltap's Original Waiter's Corkscrew with Black Handle
Waiter's corkscrews - also know as wine keys - are the standard tool of choice for most establishments. They offer the perfect blend of affordability, compact size, and functionality and are considered to be the oldest form of opening a bottle of wine. Many waiter's corkscrews include bottle cap openers and foil cutter blades as well.

How to use a waiter's corkscrew:
  1. Start by cutting the foil under the lip of the bottle
  2. Remove the foil from the bottle neck
  3. Place the worm on the center of the cork and twist the corkscrew to insert the worm into the cork
  4. Place the first, small boot lever notch on the lip of the bottle and hold it in place
  5. Lever the handle up to pull the cork about halfway out of the bottle
  6. Move the second boot lever notch to the tip of the bottle and pull the cork the rest of the way out of the bottle
  7. To remove the cork from the worm, reverse the corkscrew motion while holding onto the cork

Pocket Corkscrews Overview

Franmara 3010-48 Traveler's Grape Customizable Plastic Corkscrew and Bottle Opener
Pocket corkscrews have a compact size that's perfect for carrying in apron or pants pockets. Many pocket corkscrews include a sheath to keep the corkscrew worm from poking through fabric or pockets. This sheath is also often used to create a "T" shaped crossbar that provides leverage to twist the worm into the cork and remove the cork. Pocket corkscrews require more strength than electric or counter mount corkscrews.

How to use a pocket corkscrew:
  1. Start by cutting the foil under the lip of the bottle
  2. Remove the sheath and slide it into the opening at the base of the corkscrew
  3. Insert the corkscrew into the cork and turn until the worm is inserted into the cork
  4. Once the worm is fully inserted, pull outwards on the handle to remove the cork
  5. To remove the cork from the worm, reverse the corkscrew motion while holding onto the cork

Wing Corkscrews Overview

Franmara 2039-01 Tavern Wing Corkscrew with Black Body
Wing, or winged, corkscrews are a popular choice for synthetic cork removal due to their ease of use. Additionally, they can be used on corks of all sizes for further versatility. Wing corkscrews are not the best choice for opening vintage wines or wines with natural, brittle corks as they can leave cork crumbs behind.

How to use a wing corkscrew:
  1. Start by cutting the foil under the lip of the bottle
  2. Cut the foil around the neck of the bottle
  3. Remove the foil and insert the worm into the center of the cork
  4. Twist the corkscrew lever to insert the worm into the cork. Continue twisting until the wings rise all the way up
  5. Once the wings have risen, push down on them simultaneously to pull the cork out of the bottle
  6. To remove the cork from the corkscrew simply turn the handle counterclockwise

Electric Corkscrews Overview

Waring WWO120 Portable Rechargeable Wine Bottle Opener
Electric corkscrews are the easiest way to open wine bottles. Their simple push button operation makes it possible for anyone to open a bottle of wine. Electric corkscrews are ideal for anyone with arthritis or little hand strength.

How to use an electric corkscrew:
  1. Start by cutting the foil under the lip of the bottle
  2. Place the electric corkscrew on top of the wine bottle neck. Be sure to keep the corkscrew vertical
  3. Turn the corkscrew on and it will automatically insert the worm and remove the cork
  4. Remove the corkscrew from the top of the bottle once corkscrew has removed the cork
  5. Reverse the corkscrew motion to remove the cork from the worm

Counter Mount Corkscrews Overview

Table Mount Wine Bottle Opener
Counter mount corkscrews can be attached to a table or counter for sturdiness and support. Counter mount corkscrews provide additional torque and can open bottles faster and with less effort than many other types of corkscrews. Therefore, this style of corkscrew is ideal for high-volume establishments.

How to use a counter mount corkscrew:
  1. Start by cutting the foil under the lip of the bottle
  2. Insert the wine bottle in the corkscrew
  3. Pull down on the handle to insert the corkscrew worm
  4. Release the handle to uncork the wine bottle
  5. Return the handle to the up position and the cork will fall off the worm

Lever Corkscrews Overview

Franmara 7748 Speed-Pull Decorker with Built-In Foil Cutter
Lever corkscrews are quickly gaining popularity thanks to their ease of use. Most lever corkscrews only require two motions, one forward motion in which the worm is inserted into the cork and another that gently pulls the cork from the bottle. The real benefit of using a lever corkscrew is the amount of control they provide as the handle firmly holds the neck of the bottle while the corkscrew is in use.

How to use a lever corkscrew:
  1. Start by cutting the foil under the lip of the bottle
  2. Remove the foil from the bottle neck
  3. With the lever in the up position, place the corkscrew on top of the wine bottle
  4. Push the lever down to insert the worm into the cork
  5. Once the lever is all the way down, pull the handle back up to remove the cork from the wine bottle
  6. To remove the cork from the worm, lift the corkscrew off the bottle and flip the handle up and down a few times

Wine Cork Extractors Overview

Franmara 2125 Ahh Super! Chrome-Plated Two-Prong Cork Extractor with Black Sheath
Wine cork extractors feature prongs that slide down between the wine bottle and cork to remove the cork from the bottle. They're ideally used with vintage corks made from natural cork. Best of all, extractors won't damage vintage wine corks or cause them to break apart dropping crumbs into the wine.

How to use a wine cork extractor:
  1. Start by cutting the foil under the lip of the bottle
  2. Firmly holding the neck of the bottle, slide the extractor prongs between the cork and the inside of the bottle neck
  3. Shimmy the prongs down using a left to right motion while applying light force to the handle
  4. Once fully inserted, twist the extractor and pull upward to remove the cork
  5. To remove the cork from the extractor simply slide it out from between the prongs

Wall Mount Corkscrews Overview

Franmara 5516 Bar-Pull Chrome-Plated Wall Mount Wine Bottle Opener
Wall mount corkscrews mount to a beam or wall for optimal stability and security when removing wine corks. Wall mount corkscrews can be set for different penetration depths. This is useful for partial wine cork extraction at banquet room functions where the wine will be placed on the tables before the event begins.

How to use a wall mount corkscrew:
  1. Start by cutting the foil under the lip of the bottle
  2. Insert the neck of the wine bottle into the cradle
  3. Pull down on the handle to insert the corkscrew
  4. Return the handle to the starting position to pull the cork out
  5. Once the bottle is removed from the cradle the cork will fall to the floor

Continuous Pull Corkscrews Overview

Franmara 7317-21 Magellan Continuous-Pull Translucent Red Corkscrew
Continuous pull corkscrews work using a twist motion to drive the worm into the cork. Additionally, the sides of the continuous pull corkscrew sit on the sit on the neck of the bottle, and many styles have hinges on the handles so you can squeeze them around the bottles neck to get a better grip.

How to use a continuous pull corkscrew:
  1. Start by cutting the foil under the lip of the bottle
  2. Place the base of the corkscrew over the top of your wine bottle
  3. Turn the handle clockwise to insert the worm into the cork
  4. As the worm screws into the cork, slide the sides over the neck of the bottle for a better grip
  5. Continue turning the handle clockwise until the cork is fully extracted
  6. To remove the cork from the corkscrew simply turn the handle counterclockwise
Expert Tip

How can I remove broken corks that fall inside the wine bottle?
Consider using a cork retriever. Simply hold the prongs together, insert the device into your bottle, and push down on the top to open the prongs. Once the prongs are situated around the cork, pull up on the device. The prongs will close automatically around the cork, pulling it to safety outside the bottle and saving your beverage!

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