Corkscrews and wine openers are necessary tools for any foodservice establishment that serves bottles of wine. Manufacturers design different types of corkscrews to open particular corks and handle high-volume applications. In this guide, we'll go over the types of wine openers and the important factors you need to consider before purchasing one.
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Before reading about the types of wine openers, watch our video to learn how to use a wine key the proper way.
Each type of corkscrew has different advantages. While they all open wine bottles, how they are used to remove a cork varies from type to type. Depending on your wine list, you may want to consider having multiple wine opener types to remove different corks. Below are 8 types of corkscrews and how to use them to help you determine which corkscrew is best for you.
A wine key, sometimes called a waiter's corkscrew, is the traditional wine opener of choice for most establishments. They offer the perfect blend of affordability, compact size, and functionality, and they are considered to be the oldest form of opening a bottle of wine. They’re perfect for front-of-house use for servers who often open and pour wine directly at tables. Many waiter's corkscrews also include a small knife to quickly cut through the foil on a wine bottle as well as bottle cap openers. Plus, they are small enough to be put into apron pockets for convenient, immediate use.
Follow the steps below to open a wine bottle with a wine key.
Pocket corkscrews have a compact size that's perfect for carrying in aprons or pant pockets. Many pocket corkscrews include a sheath to keep the corkscrew worm from poking through the pocket's fabric. This sheath is also often used to create a "T" shaped crossbar that provides leverage to twist the worm into the cork to remove it. These small, portable corkscrews are great for servers and bartenders to keep on hand at all times. Compared to traditional corkscrews, pocket corkscrews are more compact but they require more manual strength to remove the cork from the wine bottle and typically do not include bottle openers.
Follow the steps below to open a wine bottle with a pocket corkscrew.
Wing, or winged, corkscrews have two levers on opposite sides, which raise with each twist of the worm into the cork and then are pushed down to remove the cork. They 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. With a small size and easy-to-use design, these corkscrews are great for front-of-house use by waiters.
Follow the steps below to open a wine bottle with a wing corkscrew.
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. These corkscrews are great for back-of-house use, and for quickly opening bottles of wine behind the bar. Electric corkscrews are ideal for beginners or anyone with arthritis, carpal tunnel, or minimal hand mobility. Since they are large and bulky, electric corkscrews are not the best option for table service, where uncorking wine is just as much a part of the experience as drinking it. Be sure to keep it charged so it is always ready to use when you need it.
Follow the steps below to open a wine bottle with an electric wine opener.
Mounted wine openers can either be attached to a countertop or mounted to a beam or wall. Mounted wine opener corkscrews provide additional torque and can open bottles faster and with less effort than many other types of corkscrews. A wall-mount corkscrew 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. These corkscrews are great for back-of-house use in high-volume settings, but, some have an upscale appearance that is perfect for enhancing the presentation of your wine room or hotel bar.
Follow the steps below to open a wine bottle with a mounted corkscrew.
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. Plus, they do not require any manual hand or arm strength, making them great for anyone with arthritis, carpal tunnel, or minimal hand mobility. Lever corkscrews can be used to remove older corks from aged wines, however, they are not recommended for extracting synthetic corks.
Follow the steps below to open a wine bottle with a lever corkscrew.
Wine cork extractors feature prongs that slide down between the wine bottle and the cork to remove the cork from the bottle. Compared to other corkscrew types, wine cork extractors take more manual strength to extract the cork. They're ideally used with vintage corks made from natural cork. Extractors won't damage vintage wine corks or cause them to break apart and drop crumbs into the wine, allowing you to reseal the bottle as soon as you're done pouring. Due to their small size, these extractors are great for keeping behind the bar or in aprons for quick, convenient access.
Follow the steps below to open a wine bottle with a wine cork extractor.
Continuous pull corkscrews typically feature a two-piece construction and work by using a twist motion to drive the worm into the cork. The prongs or base of the corkscrew sit on the neck of the bottle, and many styles have hinges on the handles so you can squeeze them around the bottle's neck to get a better grip. Due to their small size and easy-to-use design, these corkscrews are great for front-of-house use by servers and bartenders.
Follow the steps below to open a wine bottle with a continuous pull corkscrew.
Below are some factors to consider when you are browsing for the perfect new corkscrew.
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.
Smaller operations or establishments with sommeliers 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 a quick and easy task, which helps recoup their cost in saved labor.
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 can carry wine bottles to the corkscrew to open them.
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 denser 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.
Upscale restaurants that emphasize the 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, wedding venues, or wine tasting rooms 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 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.
Despite there being different corkscrew types, corkscrews generally have the same parts, like 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 corkscrews.
Read on to learn the answers to some frequently asked questions about wine openers.
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.
Natural corks can become sensitive or brittle with age. Therefore, if you're opening a lot of vintage wines, a wine opener extractor or lever corkscrew are great options. These types of corkscrews are less likely to break a cork apart leaving cork crumbs in your wine.
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 handle. The prongs will close automatically around the cork, pulling it to safety outside the bottle and saving your beverage.