Kristen Hicks on August 2, 2016 1 Comment Table of Contents Types of Wine Openers Factors to Consider While Shopping Most Popular Brands to Consider You’ve had a long day at work. You stop on your way home to grab a delicious bottle of wine and spend the whole rest of the commute home looking forward to a glass. You bring the bottle into your kitchen and pull down a glass, only to realize your corkscrew is broken. A bottle of wine, no matter how expensive or amazing it may be, quickly becomes worthless if you don’t have a way to open it. Wine openers are a necessary component for every single glass of wine you enjoy. The corkscrew may seem like a pretty simple subject – it’s a tool that serves one basic purpose, after all. But you’d be surprised how broad and varied the market for wine openers is. From electric to old-fashioned, there are quite a few variations of this necessary tool. If you like wine, you will definitely want to make sure you have a dependable wine opener around at all times. If you’re looking to buy a new wine opener, either for yourself or to give as a gift, our guide will help you identify the best options out there for you. Click Here to Shop for Wine Openers & Corkscrews 6 Types of Wine Openers Who knew there were so many ways to open a wine bottle? Pulling a cork out of a bottle, seems like a pretty simple task. But, there are many different ways to accomplish this. Below, we break down the different types of wine openers, to give you a better idea of which one would be best for you. 1. Traditional & Screwpull Corkscrews The screwpull wine opener is the simplest design of the bunch. You’ve got a handle on top to hold onto, with a curled metal rod at the bottom (this part’s often referred to as the “worm”). You screw the worm into the cork and then pull on the handle to pop the cork out. They are small and affordable, making them a fantastic accessory to keep near your wine collection. However, the main downside of this type of corkscrew is that it requires some serious arm strength to pull the cork out of the bottle. Some people may struggle to get the cork out and find it takes them a little longer to get the bottle open, if they can even open it at all. Because they’re harder to use than many of the other types of wine openers on the market, traditional corkscrews aren’t nearly as popular as they once were. Despite their decline in popularity, there are still plenty available to buy if you choose to go that route, including some nicer models that are good for collectors. Pocket corkscrews, a subset of the screwpull corkscrew category, are some of the most affordable options you’ll find. They usually only cost a couple of dollars and, except for the worm, are made entirely of plastic. Instead of a wide handle to grip onto, they have a simple circle that’s big enough for you to slip your finger into to pull up with. They include a cover, so you can slip them into your purse or your pocket and take them with you wherever you go. In Summary: The earliest corkscrew design – serious wine lovers may want one for a collector’s item. Harder to use than more modern corkscrew designs. Require a lot of arm strength. May take longer to open your wine bottle. Affordable “pocket” versions available that are portable. 2. Wine Keys & Waiter Corkscrews Buy a Wine Key on Amazon The wine key, sometimes referred to as a waiter’s corkscrew, adds a lever to the equation. This design allows you to can rest the wine key on the top of the bottle to help you pull the cork out. A wine key requires far less arm strength than a traditional screwpull-style corkscrew, but does require a bit of skill. In order to smoothly pull the cork out, you have to be sure to get the worm into the center of the cork and then screw it in just the right amount, as well as rest the lever on the rim of the bottle at just the right angle. Once you master this skill, removing the cork is a quick process. But, if you do it wrong, it’s possible that you end up tearing or fracturing the cork as you attempt to pull it out. No one wants bits of cork floating in their wine. Once you get the hang of using a wine key though, they’re usually not too difficult to handle and they have the additional advantage of being lightweight and easy to carry around (hence their association with waiters). Waiter’s corkscrews usually include a foil cutter built in as well, for some extra convenience. In Summary: Affordable. Easier to use than screwpull wine openers. Lightweight and portable, often folds up like a Swiss army knife. Takes a bit of time to master the art of using a wine key. Not as easy to use as other wine opener options. Usually comes with a foil cutter. 3. Winged Corkscrews Buy a Winged Corkscrew on Amazon The winged corkscrew is probably the most popular types of wine openers. It brings us a step further in terms of ease of use. By adding in an additional lever, this type of wine opener gives you one on each side — “the wings.” This extra lever allows you not to worry about angling anything just right. As you turn the handle up top, the wings on the corkscrew will slowly start to rise up, then all you have to do is push them both back down and the worm will pull the cork out of the bottle. Winged corkscrews don’t require much strength or skill to use. It’s a relatively simple process that can be done with minimal effort. However, this type of wine opener is not recommended for opening aged bottles, as these are likely to have more brittle or sensitive corks. The force of pulling the cork out with a winged corkscrew may snap or break older corks. For someone who’s more of a casual wine drinker, that’s unlikely to become an issue. Winged corkscrews aren’t quite as portable as our first two options. They aren’t usually heavy, but they’re not something you could easily fit in a pocket or a small purse. And if you do, it’s possible that the wings may catch something causing the worm to poke out and stick you. You can prevent this by wrapping a rubber band or hair tie around the wings. Another consideration is the materials in which the corkscrew is built. If you go with one of the cheaper options, they will likely be made of cheap materials and prone to falling apart. For occasional use, this likely won’t be much of a concern. But if you plan on using this wine opener often, you will want to buy one that is more durable and designed to last. In Summary: Popular & affordable. Effortless and easy to use. Not recommended for aged wine. Less portable than wine keys and screwpull corkscrews. Can easily fall apart if not well made. 4. Lever Corkscrews Buy a Lever Corkscrew on Amazon Lever corkscrews are even easier to use than their winged counterparts. They have handles that hold the wine bottle in place while you lower the screw using a lever, then simply pull it back out. It’s a simple and painless way to open a bottle of wine. Since they don’t require any arm or hand strength, lever corkscrews are ideal for anyone that may suffer from arthritis, carpal tunnel or any condition that may limit mobility. This effortless method of opening wine has made this type of wine opener one of the most popular styles out there. The lever corkscrew category includes a lot of popular variations, including the Houdini and Rabbit. They’re popular to give as a gift as they are affordable, yet still a cut above wine keys and winged corkscrews. As such, they cost more than either of those categories, but they usually look pretty cool and are extremely easy for anyone to use. Unfortunately, some lever corkscrews don’t work well with synthetic corks, which are becoming more common in many newer bottles of wine. If you know you tend to drink wines that have synthetic corks, then make sure to look for a lever corkscrew that advertises the ability to work with both synthetic and natural corks. In Summary: Extremely easy to use. Opens wine bottles quickly and efficiently. Usually cost more than wine keys, winged and screwpull wine openers. Don’t always work with synthetic corks. They are very popular to give as a gift. 5. Automatic & Electric Wine Openers Buy an Electric Wine Opener on Amazon As we’ve moved through the list so far, the wine openers have only gotten easier and easier to use. The electric wine opener, as you’d expect, is no exception. These use energy pulled from either replaceable or built-in batteries that are charged on a base. This type of wine opener does all of the work for you. You place the device on top of the wine bottle, press a button, and ta da, the cork comes out and your wine is ready to serve. Automatic wine openers cost more than most winged and waiter’s corkscrews, and are typically similar in price to lever corkscrews. The only effort you’ll really have to use with these is making sure to keep them charged or make sure the batteries get replaced when they run out. They are small enough to store away when not in use, or you can set up the charging base next to your wine fridge, credenza or storage rack. This will keep it conveniently near by and always ready to use. Just as the case with lever-style corkscrews, these are one of the most popular wine gadgets to give as a gift. They are affordable, innovative and make a lot of sense for anyone with weak hands. In Summary: Extremely easy to use. Open bottles fast, with no work from you. Cost more than traditional, waiter’s, and winged corkscrews. Choose between battery-operated models and rechargeable ones. Ideal for anyone with weak hand or arm strength. Popular to give as a gift. 6. Legacy Wine Openers Buy a Legacy Wine Opener on Amazon Legacy corkscrews are a smaller and little-known style of wine openers. A type which you will likely only find in the hands of the most devoted collectors out there. An exquisite relic that gives nod to bygone winemakers, legacy corkscrews are more of a high-end wine opener that typically have an ornate or antique-style. They typically come either attached on a stand or designed to be mounted to the side of a bar or table. This design makes legacy corkscrews both functional and decorative. This decorative wine opener is ideal for anyone that wants to bring some extra style into their kitchen or bar space. Functionally, they usually work similarly to lever corkscrews, you simply push down on a lever and pull the cork out. Due to its large size, intricate design and higher price tag, these wine openers are not as widely available as other types listed above. However, the ones that are available are typically very luxurious and high-end, making them a great gift for collector and connoisseurs. In Summary: More expensive than other wine openers. Smaller selection to choose from due to being less common. Decorative as well as functional, perfect for home bars. Ideal for wine collectors and connoisseurs. Factors to Consider When Buying a Wine Opener Now that it’s clear that finding the best wine opener for you will be a bit more complicated than you may have originally expected, here are a few of the main considerations you should have in mind during your search. Ease of Use As you likely noticed as you made your way through the list of corkscrew types, one of the biggest differentiators between different wine openers is ease of use. If everyone found screwpull wine openers easy to use, the evolution of the corkscrew industry likely would have stopped there. As it is, a lot of people have a hard time with the traditional and waiter’s corkscrew designs and prefer to upgrade to something that requires less effort. Not to mention, a method that poses less risk of small pieces of cork in your glass. The absolute top choices for ease of use fall into the lever and electric wine opener categories. These designs are extremely easy to use, don’t require any real strength or skill, and are fast. They’re the best options for anyone with weak hands, arthritis, or carpal tunnel – or anyone who’s just a little lazy. If you want to open that bottle of wine without having to put any effort in, spending a little money to buy one of those two types of wine openers will be well worth it. Cost Pocket corkscrews can cost less than $2. Some especially high-end corkscrews can cost over $100 (The New York Times even wrote about one that’s over $400). But the vast majority of winged corkscrews and wine keys will cost less than $20. The more advanced lever and electric wine openers can often be found in the $30-$60 price range. If you want something fancier, showier, or that promises to last an especially long time, you can easily spend a lot of money. If you simply want something that gets the job done without too much effort, then you certainly have plenty of options that are with a reasonable and affordable range. Style A lot of the different types of models you’d consider will bring some stylishness to the equation. Even some simple screwpulls or wine keys are available in different colors, finishes or made of rare materials. You also have plenty of electric corkscrews available in a variety of colors or provide a beautiful lighting effect when in operation. And then you have legacy corkscrews that are specifically designed with decoration in mind. If a wine opener that looks as good as it works is a priority for you, then rest assured that you have no shortage of stylish options that will bring some extra beauty to your kitchen counter or home bar. Size For waiters, frequent travelers or anyone taking a bottle on-the-go, a corkscrew that’s easy to carry around is paramount. Do you want something that can easily fit in a purse or a pocket? Is it important to you that your corkscrew be lightweight? Typically, a wine key or screwpull will be the optimal choice if finding something small and lightweight is your priority, but some winged corkscrews may fit the bill too. Most lever corkscrews will likely be a little big to easily carry around in a purse. Electric openers will also be a little big, but will also need to be charged in order to work properly. These wine openers will work best for anyone looking to keep it in one primary location, especially electric versions that come with a charging base. These are ideal for kitchen counters, home bars or credenzas. Durability A lot of corkscrews on the more affordable end of the spectrum aren’t necessarily made with durability in mind. If you want to get something that gets the job done and doesn’t cost much, that may be fine for you. However, if you want something you can get some real mileage out of, then spending a little more for a wine opener made with strong materials from a brand with a solid reputation is well worth the investment. Some brands even sell wine openers that come with a warranty. If you want something you know the manufacturer expects to last for a long time, finding one covered by a strong warranty is your smartest bet. Cork Type While lever corkscrews are easy to use and can even work for the older corks in aged bottles of wine, many of them fall short when it comes to extracting synthetic corks. Wine keys and winged corkscrews, on the other hand, can manage synthetic corks without much problem, however, they aren’t the best for sensitive, brittle and older corks. Depending on how much variety you expect to encounter in the types of bottles you open, as well as the conditions of which you store your wine, you may want to consider having multiple corkscrews nearby designated for different uses. Or you can look specifically for a wine opener that advertises the ability to open both synthetic corks and older natural corks. Worm Length If your corkscrew has a worm that’s too short, you’ll have a hard time extracting the cork without tearing it apart up on the way out. Too long, and you will puncture the cork sending tiny crumbs down into the wine. Make sure whatever type of corkscrew you buy has a worm longer than 1.75 inches. That should be long enough to effectively pull out any type of cork in your wine bottle, without sacrificing the integrity of the cork. For the most part, the length of the worm won’t be a problem, but it is definitely something that you should keep in mind. Keep an eye on the reviews, if the worm is too short or too long, you will know it based on the feedback from previous customers. Showiness Finally, for anyone who likes to entertain, buying a wine opener that looks good enough to show off is going to be a priority. Most of the corkscrews that provide a bit of “showiness” will fall into either the legacy, electric, or lever categories. You can easily see how your different options look while browsing and, for many models, you can find videos that show how they look while opening wine as well. Extras: Full Kit: If you’re looking for a good gift for someone, or just want to treat yourself, you can often find kits that include wine openers in a nice presentation package, sometimes alongside extras like an aerator or decanter. Foil Cutter: A lot of wine openers come with a foil cutter as part of it, but in some cases you’ll need to buy one separate. These aren’t always necessary, but when it comes to opening wine, it does add a certain element of glamour to the process. Stand: A few wine openers come with a stand you can use to hold the wine bottle in place and keep the wine opener at the right height. Another luxury, a stand will help ensure that the worm goes into the cork at the right angle, minimizing the risk of it breaking on the way out. Overview of Popular Wine Opener Brands With so much variety in the types of wine openers available to you, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that there are a large number of brands selling products in the space. To give you some idea of what to expect from each of the main brands that offer wine openers, we looked at the customer reviews people have left for them. Here’s a summary of what people are saying. Brookstone Brookstone makes high-end lever corkscrews and automatic wine openers. Their lever wine openers consistently get rave reviews from customers who love how easy they are to use, even for those with arthritis, and are certain the quality of materials will mean the tools have a long life. Their automatic wine openers get much more mixed reviews. Customers are split between 5-star reviews from those who say their wine opener works great, and one-star reviews from those who can never seem to get the wine opener working to begin with or say it breaks within a couple of uses. Epicureanist Epicureanist sells a couple of models of electric wine openers and an old-fashioned legacy corkscrew that comes with a stand. The legacy wine opener earns mixed reviews. Many customers love the look of it, say it’s well made, and find it convenient to use. A few complained that it broke too quickly and wasn’t made of hearty enough materials. The electric corkscrews get glowing reviews across the board. Customers love them. They say they’re easy to use, charge quickly, are great for people with arthritis, work consistently and last a long time. One model comes with an atmospheric blue light that customers praise for being beautiful as well. Koolatron Koolatron makes automatic corkscrews that earn mixed reviews from customers. Happy customers say the wine openers are of good quality, are easy to use, and last a long time. Detractors say their wine opener didn’t last long enough for the cost. Those that are happy with their automatic corkscrews are typically very happy though, to the tune of four or five stars. Le Creuset Le Creuset is a well-known brand in the wine opener industry with a reputation that goes way back. They sell a wide range of corkscrews in a variety of types, some of them very high end and others on the more affordable side. Most of their corkscrews earn reviews fitting of the brand’s reputation – with 5-star raves all around. A few particular products get more critical reviews for product-specific issues like not lasting very long or not working very smoothly. Many of their products come with warranties – some of them for five or ten years, so they’re a company that’s definitely willing to stand behind their products. In general, Le Creuset has a very strong reputation for quality. You’re probably safe going with a Le Creuset wine opener, but you can always check the reviews for the specific corkscrew you’re considering to be sure. MetroKane MetroKane are the purveyors of the Rabbit and Houdini-style corkscrews and also sell some automatic and waiter models. Most of their corkscrews earn great reviews. Customers say they’re effortless to use, attractive, and many mention that they make great gifts. A couple of models don’t work as well as the others, earning complaints for breaking too quickly or the cork getting stuck in them. The larger reputation of the brand is overwhelmingly positive, but a couple of models don’t live up to the usual performance that you can count on MetroKane for, so consider checking the reviews before buying. Oster Oster has a relatively large lineup of affordable electric wine openers, available in an array of colors. This brand is known for making affordable appliances for your kitchen, and their electric wine openers seem to fall in line with the rest. For the most part, Oster is pretty popular with customers who say their devices have lasted a long time, are easy to use, and are stylish. With a lot of positive reviews for this product, Oster is a safe buy for anyone trying to stay within budget. Pulltex Pulltex is another popular brand that offers a large selection of simple and affordable waiter corkscrews. The reviews are very positive, however, be warned that there appear to be several knockoffs around the web that garner some terrible reviews. If you want a corkscrew that is simple and functional, Pulltex will do the trick. True Fabrications True Fabrications sells reliable waiter’s corkscrews in a wide range of colors that come at some of the lowest prices of any of the brands on this list. Many reviewers mention that the corkscrew is a knock-off of the Pulltex version, but pretty much none of them mind because the price is right and the corkscrews are still perfectly functional. Waring Waring is another very popular brand that specializes in manufacturing high-end electric wine openers. Across the board, customers give their units positive reviews. Most of the praise goes to the dependability of their units, as well as being easy to use and quick to charge. If you are looking to buy an electric wine opener, then Waring is a great place to start your search. Conclusion Wine openers come in so many shapes, sizes, and styles that you have a wide world of options to choose from. Whether your priority is finding the most affordable option that does the job, getting something as effortless as possible, or picking the showiest possible solution to impress your friends, you should be able to find a number of strong options to choose from. Do some browsing and find the tool that will make sure nothing separates you from your glass of wine at the end of a hard day. You deserve it.