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Like, I imagine, most people who spent a large portion of their adult life working in the service industry or waiting tables, I have strong opinions about wine openers. When you’re standing table-side trying to quickly open a bottle of $90 Gamay before you run out of server small talk, you need something guaranteed not to let you down.
Personally, I’m old-fashioned, and prefer a classic corkscrew with a sturdy fulcrum. However, I know and respect that there are others who like the openers with arms or levers that they find easier to use. Here’s what to know when shopping for the best corkscrew.
What Are the Different Types of Wine Openers?
You don’t have to open wine professionally to use a professional-caliber wine opener. In my humble opinion, the only wine opener worse than one that comes with batteries is the cheap, flimsy opener every kitchen seems to have at least one of floating around in the silverware drawer. As long as the opener is well-made, you can pretty much rely on any of the following styles.
Basic: I’m referring here to a corkscrew that is literally just a corkscrew attached to a short handle, without any leveraging mechanism. Frankly, unless you are a sommelier in the Sixties, opening a very old wine with a delicate cork, or French, I’d recommend saving yourself the aggravation with this style.
Classic Waiter: Look first for quality construction and materials like stainless steel, with a substantial heft and comfortable, ergonomic handle. The hinges should operate smoothly with just enough friction without loosening over time. And perhaps most importantly, you want a double-hinged fulcrum, meaning there is a second hinge in the middle of the lever that allows for a smoother, two-step pull when extracting the cork. Single-hinged fulcrums have a single solid lever which is notched, but does not hinge on the second pull.
Butterfly or Winged: These openers have two arms or “wings” that automatically elevate as you twist in the cork, which you then press down on in order to pull the cork free. Like with a classic waiter opener, look for quality construction and substantive weight, but also pay attention to the design. Curved handles with soft rubber grips can make using the opener more comfortable, while also making it easier to operate with less pressure. Make sure the end of the corkscrew is pointed downwards and not curved, as this can affect how efficiently the screw drives into the cork.
Rabbit or Lever: These openers are bulkier than their more classic counterparts, and are designed to be fitted over the cork and opened using a lever in one, swift motion. Quality of make is the number one priority with this style, as cheaply-made rabbit openers tend to fall apart or shred the cork to pieces.
1. Professional Waiter’s Corkscrew by HiCoup
This wine opener has a comfortable heft in the hand, with an ergonomic rosewood handle that is easy to handle. The double-hinged fulcrum is sturdily constructed and still operates smoothly nearly seven years later. It is the only wine opener you’ll ever need. Seriously.
2. IPOW Wing Corkscrew
If winged or butterfly wine openers are more your thing, there are several elements to this corkscrew that make it stand out. The sharp downward point of the corkscrew, made from premium zinc alloy, allows it to easily pierce the cork without crumbling. The curved shape of the wing handles and non-slip rubber grips help make them easy to grasp, and require less downward pressure to pull out the cork.
3. Brookstone Compact Wine Opener
If you’re not willing to take any chances with uncorking a wine bottle (especially a pricy one), I can’t say I blame you, which is why this Brookstone opener makes the list. Of the rabbit styles, this opener tops most lists for its elegant appearance, high-caliber construction, and ease of use. Keep in mind that while this opener can get you from zero to wine o’clock in around three seconds, there is a bit of a learning curve when using it so watch a YouTube video or two first.
4. Professional Waiter Corkscrew
For when just one won’t do, these openers meet all the standard requirements for a decent classic wine opener, including quality materials, comfortable handle, and double-hinged fulcrum. A four-pack is a good choice for servers and bartenders who always need a few openers on hand, but also for people who just drink a lot of wine. Keep one in the kitchen, one on the bar cart and hey, one in the bedroom too. No judgement here.