Types of Corkscrew and Wine Openers and How to Use Them

When I first started to write this article, I had a small list of corkscrew types, but I had forgotten all the obscure types so the list grew much larger. I decided to start with the three most popular like the Waiter’s Corkscrews, Wing Corkscrews and Lever type wine opener. I know everyone is familiar with these. First thing is to remove the foil from the top of the bottle before using any corkscrew, it makes things easier and it looks so much better.

The waiter’s corkscrew is the most popular and used in most restaurants. I’ve read some articles that say the waiter’s corkscrew is difficult to use but I don’t agree. To use a waiter’s corkscrew start the point of the screw in the center of the cork and simply twist the screw straight down into the cork until the last curve of the screw has penetrated the cork, place the notched lever on the lip of the bottle then raise the handle up and the cork is removed. Once you open a few bottles it will be like riding a bike. They are very reliable and virtually last forever. If you need more information on waiter’s corkscrews, see my article “Waiter’s Corkscrews Styles – Which ones right for you”.

The winged corkscrew is also a popular type with this corkscrew you need to align the screw with the center of the cork as you did with the waiter’s corkscrew then twist the entire corkscrew (with the wings out) until the bottle sits flush on the corkscrew bottom. Simply push both wings down and the cork will be removed.

The Lever (rabbit or screwpull) wine opener is one of the easiest to operate. First thing you do is raise the lever, place the opener on the bottle and squeeze the handles (ears), next push the lever down which inserts the screw into the cork, finally when you raise the lever up the cork will be easily removed. To remove the cork from the corkscrew, first lower the lever so the cork is return to the lower position then squeeze the handles and raise the lever and the cork should fall off. If this is your choice buy one of high quality it will last longer and work better.

Twist Pull Corkscrew is easy to use. Simply place the corkscrew over the mouth of the bottle and twist the handle. The screw will penetrate the cork and when it bottoms out the cork will be extracted as you continually twist the handle.

The T-handle corkscrew is a simple design, which date back to the 1800’s. The screw is twisted into the cork as previously described but once it is fully inserted you merely pull on the T-handle to remove the cork, which is easier that it sounds. You will need some arm strength. This one is inexpensive but not very popular. A lot of wineries put their logo on it give them away. Nice to through in a picnic basket in case you forget to bring your favorite one but not something you would use on a regular basis.

Two-prong twist does not have a screw but different length prongs which slide between the cork and the bottle. You’ll need to wiggle this tool as you are inserting it in to the bottle. Once it is fully inserted you need to pull the T-handle while turning the tool in order to remove the cork. It’s tricky, ever since I chipped a bottle using one I have avoided them. They are inexpensive and also sometimes used as a give away for wineries.

Multi Purpose Corkscrews remove wine corks, champagne corks, bottle caps, screw tops. These look odd but if you want one tool that does it all, this is the ticket. These openers use the same technique as the waiter’s corkscrew.

Air Pump Style Corkscrew has a needle you push in to the cork instead of a screw and it has a pump cylinder, which pushes air through the needle into the bottle causing the cork to pop out. I had one, it worked for a while but not real reliable.

Cork Pops (Co2) is a much, improved version of the air pump and it has received good response. This works on natural or synthetic corks. No hand pumping required with this Co2 cartridge and a nice looking design, but you’ll need to order extra cartridges to have on hand.

Electric Corkscrews are becoming more popular and they come with a recharging stand but they don’t recommend using them with synthetic corks. Just press a button to insert the screw and remove the cork then press a button to eject it from the screw. It doesn’t get much simpler.

Uncorking Machines (counter or wall mounted) are designed for high volume and they really look good in a wine cellar. Expensive and maybe over the top for the average wine drinker but they work well. These are easy to use but it still requires 2 hands one to hold the bottle and the other to pull the lever, which removes the cork from the bottle and ejects the removed cork from the screw all in one motion. For more information on uncorking machines see my article “Uncorking Machines – Are they worth the money?”

Aside from the specialty corkscrews like the Pisces Multi-Lever Corkscrew (fish shaped), Winemaster or the Replica Antique Vintage style corkscrews that about covers it.

As you can see there’s a lot to choose, some even eject the cork after it’s been removed but others require you to manually remove the cork from the screw. I have multiple types of corkscrews but most of the time I use a waiter’s corkscrew, but that’s just my preference.