Whether you're looking for a great wine gift or you're finally ready to invest in a corkscrew that will last, here's my Ultimate Guide to the Best Corkscrews.
If you're like me, your corkscrew drawer looks something like this. A mish mash of wine openers collected over the years that, like rabbits in springtime, seemingly multiplies at will.
The end of the day arrives, you reach for a bottle of wine, then dig around the drawer for an opener, any opener to get the job done. Except, the one you choose isn't quite up to the task. Because that free opener you got as swag on a trip a few years ago was free for a reason.
Well, enough is enough. It's time to adult-up and get yourself a corkscrew that will stand the test of time.
Introducing my Ultimate Guide to the Best Corkscrews. Whether you're a novice, an expert, or somewhere in between, one of these openers is for you. Plus, they also make great gifts, for when you want to drink someone else's wine :)
- Basic twist corkscrew
- Winged corkscrew
- Waiter's corkscrew
- Lever corkscrew
- Electric wine opener
- Air pressure wine opener
- Air pump wine opener
- Ah So wine opener
- Mounted corkscrews
- Buyer's Guide
- Best Basic Twist Corkscrew
- Best Winged Corkscrew
- Best Waiter's Corkscrew
- Best Lever Corkscrew
- Best Electric Wine Opener
- Best Air Pressure Wine Opener
- Best Air Pump Wine Opener
- Best Ah So Wine Opener
- Best Wall-mounted Corkscrew
- Honorable Mention: Coravin
- Wine recommendations
- PIN IT:
Basic twist corkscrew
The design for the Basic Twist Corkscrew dates back more than 200 years, to the late 18th century. It is widely attributed to an English clergyman named Samuel Henshall. At least, he filed for the first patent, though other similar designs were in use at the time.
The premise was straightforward: insert the screw into the cork, then pull with all your might to get it out.
Simple and effective, but not exactly easy.
Good thing wine lovers only had to wait another 85 years for the next best corkscrew to come along! In 1880, another Brit was granted a patent for the first Winged Corkscrew.
To work this tool, you simply insert the screw into the cork, then turn the handle at the top to push it down. As the screw sinks lower into the cork, the two arms or "wings" rise. Once the screw is sufficiently embedded, you simply press down on the arms and pull the cork out.
While fairly simple, this design does have its drawbacks. Most notably, ones with a broader screw can damage the corks. They either shred them or just make a mess. This can result in some of that cork ending up in your wine bottle. Plus, cheap versions of the winged corkscrew can easily break, so look for a solid one.
If you go for the winged option, be sure to get one with a bottle opener in the handle top like the model shown here. Bonus!
Following just a couple of years after the winged corkscrew, the Waiter's Corkscrew (aka Wine Key or Sommelier Knife) is credited to a German by the name of Karl Wienke. It's said that it got one of its nicknames after gaining popularity in English speaking countries. Finding "Wienke" difficult to pronounce, users simply began referring to it as the "wine key."
This version of the corkscrew really took off in the restaurant industry however, soon becoming a favorite with waiters. It's light weight, portability, ease of use, and frequently built-in foil cutter made it the perfect tool for quickly opening bottles table side.
The Waiter's Corkscrew is my personal favorite. But a word of caution: invest in a high quality one.
I've been using the same one for over 10 years. It's solid and reliable. Cheaper ones can break easily, and leave you wondering just how you're going to get that broken cork out of your wine bottle.
Did someone say they wanted simple? Well, the Lever Corkscrew is for you. Often nicknamed the "bunny ears," this corkscrew is recommended for beginners due to its ease of use. You just grip the side of the bottle with the two handles, push the lever to insert the screw into the cork, then lift it back up to pop it out.
While it's bulkier and usually spendier than other options, if you're looking for minimal effort and speed, consider a lever.
Electric wine opener
Wouldn't it be great to be able to uncork a wine bottle with just the push of a button? You can! Electric wine openers are for those who crave the need for speed (some claim to open a bottle in under 6 seconds) and like a bit of technology with their Tempranillo.
How does it work? You simply remove the foil, place the device over the cork, push a button to insert the screw, and push another to extract it. Ok, its two pushes of a button, but still...
Air pressure wine opener
Sometimes, opening a bottle of wine requires more than simply finesse. It calls for flair! Sure, you could use an average old corkscrew to get that cork out, but that's not you. You're anything but average. And so is your air pressure wine opener.
The main benefit of this type of opener is the minimal effort required. You simply insert the needle into the cork, push a button which releases a small amount of CO2, then the cork pops right out.
While it's faster and easier than most of the other openers, each CO2 cartridge covers only about 60-80 bottles, so this can be an expensive option if you're a true oenophile.
Air pump wine opener
Similar to the air pressure opener, the air pump wine opener also uses a needle to help extract the cork, but it requires a bit more elbow grease.
If you've ever pumped up a bike tire or kickball, this method will be familiar to you. It works by inserting the needle into the cork, gripping a handle at the top of the pump, then moving it up and down. This forces air into the bottle and the cork pops out.
This method also has a bit of the flair attached, and many wine oficianados swear by it. But be prepared for a bit of a workout.
Ah So wine opener
Near the top of my list of favorites (due mostly to its nickname "the Butler's Friend"), the Ah So wine opener has a colorful past.
It got its nickname as unsavory butlers could use this type of opener to discreetly open bottles of wine without damaging the cork, take a swig or two, and replace the cork with no one being the wiser. I mean, who can't relate to that story? Speaking of, where did our butler go? But I digress...
As you may have guessed, this opener is unique in that it doesn't puncture the cork in any way to remove it. Rather, it grips it from both sides with its slender arms, then the user twists it to remove the cork.
This is the best option to use with vintage bottles that may have older, more brittle corks, as it's designed to limit any damage. It can also be very effective in extracting a half broken cork that's still stuck in the bottle. Not that that's ever happened to you...
Mounted corkscrews come in many shapes and sizes. Some come with a stand, others can be attached to a bar or counter top. And some can be affixed to a wall, like the one shown here.
They're similar to the lever opener in that they use an arm to insert the screw into the cork and then remove it from the bottle. But they're a bit more decorative. And permanent. A major benefit of the mounted wine opener is that you're likely to always know where to find it (no rooting around in drawers).
Due to its size, they're often bulkier and costlier than other options. But if you have a home bar and enjoy the ease of having a wine opener at the ready, then this might be for you.
Ok, strictly speaking, the Coravin Wine Preservation System is not a corkscrew. But it is a wine opener, of sorts. It's main selling point is that it claims to be able to keep your wine fresh for months, even years after you first "open" it.
Here's how it works: Like the air pump models, it uses a needle to insert into the cork, but the cork isn't removed. Rather, the wine flows through the needle and out through an opening near the top of the device. The tool acts a seal between your wine and the air outside of it, so the wine itself stays fresh. When you're done pouring, simply remove the device and the cork naturally reseals itself and your wine stays preserved.
Now, we can't independently verify Coravin's claims that it can keep wine fresh for years, because, well our wine seems to have a way of vanishing much sooner after it's opened. But this could be a good option if you're looking for a unique opener and enjoy being able to have multiple bottles "open" at once.
Don't let the wrong tools get between you and your wine. Arm yourself with one of my picks for the top corkscrews and wine openers.
Best Basic Twist Corkscrew
We get it. You go to the gym and want to show off those burly arms. So when it comes to corkscrews, you keep it basic and prefer to use your brute strength. This is the corkscrew for you. ($4.50)
Best Winged Corkscrew
Looking for the perfect present for your wine-loving Boomer dad? Great, because he may be the only person who truly appreciates this wine opener of yesteryear. Ok, ok, we jest -- these are still fairly common, and if you happen to dig this winged wonder, check out this Hanee rose gold number. ($10)
Best Waiter's Corkscrew
You're a wine opening pro and not afraid who knows it. Fancy electric wine openers aren't for you. You have the deft and moves of a skilled waiter, so the Waiter's Corkscrew is your tool of choice. This one from HiCoup is our top pick. ($12)
Best Lever Corkscrew
Sometimes you just need to open that bottle of wine. Stat. No time for gadgets and gimmicks, you just want the easiest, quickest tool to get the job done. We recommend this OXO vertical lever corkscrew. ($40)
Best Electric Wine Opener
We see you. You've always got the latest phone. Your friends hit you up for tech advice. You simply love a really good, effective gadget. Why should that change when it comes to wine? That's right - it shouldn't. That's why this electric wine opener from Secura has your name written all over it. ($20)
Best Air Pressure Wine Opener
You've always had a flair for the dramatic. So opening a bottle of wine with the simple push of a button appeals to your inner entertainer. Well, call over your friends, 'cause you're about to get this party started. This little beauty from Cork Pops will do the trick. ($20)
Best Air Pump Wine Opener
Maybe you love bikes. Or you were the ball boy for your local soccer team. Whatever the case, you're drawn to the hand pump action of this wine opener. Sure it takes a bit of work, but like riding a bicycle, once you learn, you never forget. ($14)
Best Ah So Wine Opener
Ok, we admit, this wine opener isn't for your average, everyday wine drinker. But that's not you. You've got a few vintage bottles tucked away and you want to make sure you can uncork them cleanly. This German opener from Monopol has you covered. ($22)
Best Wall-mounted Corkscrew
Sure, you could use a traditional hand-held corkscrew to open your wine, but where's the fun in that? Set yourself (and your home bar) apart with this mounted wine opener. Similar to the lever opener, but with a bit more permanence. And prominence. ($122)
Honorable Mention: Coravin
Technically not a corkscrew, but still a wine opener, the Coravin Wine Preservation System takes things to a whole new level. Similar to the needle technology of the air pressure opener, the Coravin system doesn't actually remove the cork. Rather, the wine is poured through the needle. The idea is that it acts a seal to keep air out and the wine goodness in. ($210)
Looking for inspiration on what wines to try with your new wine opener? Head on over to my Wine page!
Erin @ Platings and Pairings says
What a fun roundup! Who knew that there was such a background to each of the different types of openers? I'm with you, I prefer a version of the waiter's corkscrew. Mine has a built in foil cutter on the other end that your swirl around the bottle to make that cut.
Marlynn | UrbanBlissLife says
Thanks, Erin! :)