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Finding The Elusive But Perfect Corkscrew


Fed up with difficult corkscrews and cork floaties? Completely frustrated by split and broken corks that result in that all too familiar feeling of “Now what do I do?” If there were a way for you to know what was good and what was bad in a corkscrew would you want to know it before you tried to evaluate them?

Think about it – There must be 100′s of models and styles – How can you possibly know about all the internal parts, pieces and ears on every kind of corkscrew? Easy – Use these basics as a guide to what you want and even more important what you don’t want in a dependable corkscrew.

If you make your corkscrew choice based upon one criteria only – Make certain that you choose a spiral style worm as opposed to an auger style corkscrew. To distinguish a worm from an auger look straight up the center line of the metal spiral.

Worms spiral around a hollow center with smooth edges as opposed to an auger design with a solid center and sharp edges like that of a knife blade. Augers simply cut and dig out too much of the cork especially with the soft centers of older wines. Avoid augers at all cost.

Can you grip the bottle while operating the corkscrew? An old rule of thumb – One hand for the bottle and one hand for the corkscrew will never let you down.

Traditional waiter style corkscrews work with one hand on the bottle neck and one hand on the corkscrew.The wing or butterfly style seats on the top of the bottle and while easy to use also provides an excellent level of stability.

Lever style corkscrews, including the rabbit, clamp the neck of the bottle while a separate lever alternately inserts the worm and extracts the cork. Twist style corkscrews with no clamps or levers make it one of the easiest to grip and use. You simply seat it on the bottle and twist the top to insert the worm and continue twisting to remove the cork.

A question that should always be on your list is “How strong am I ?” Experts agree that extracting that “little cork” can require the same amount of force as lifting about a hundred pounds.

The waiter style corkscrew with a single lever for the lip of the bottle provides simplicity but not a great deal of mechanical advantage. The wing style corkscrew has levers on both sides and with the addition of small gear wheels the amount of mechanical advantage rises dramatically. The lever pull style corkscrew, including the rabbit, provide more mechanical advantage and control by gripping the bottle but at a higher price.

Getting the cork off the worm is an item that many people overlook.

The waiter style once again comes in as the simplest – Your basic hold the cork and twist. Simple, but slow and with no mechanical advantage. If you aren’t in a hurry these are fine.

Step up to the wing style and their close cousins the screwpulls. They have flanges on the inside of their frame that grip the cork while you continue turning the crossbar on top extracting the cork from the worm.

Lever pull style corkscrews provide the easiest and simplest cork extraction. Simply hold the corkscrew as you did to uncork the wine and return it to its original position – now with an ejected cork.

Your evaluation should always include the foil that covers the cork. An item often overlooked by many but one that should always be considered because it will extend the life of your worm. Many people simply run the worm directly through the foil on top of the bottle.

You should never do this as it dulls the worm tip while at the same time scraping off the Teflon coating of the worm, both of which are designed to make worm entry easier with less damage to the cork. Unfortunately inexpensive corkscrews rarely include a good foil cutter. Purchase a separate foil cutter – A device designed to do one job only and do it well.

Cork floaties are everybody’s favorite nuisance. They almost always come from the worm penetrating the bottom of the cork and in doing so it pushes out small pieces of the cork into your favorite wine. What do you do now? Well, two things.

First, fix your immediate problem by decanting this bottle. Second, evaluate your next corkscrew with this thought in mind – You do not want a corkscrew with a worm that penetrates the bottom of the cork.

Most worms today are short enough at 1 1/2″ – 2″ to avoid this problem. Also, look at the tip of the worm. Most modern corkscrews will include a strong fine point which can penetrate the bottom of the cork without crumbling.

An off center worm or one that enters the cork at an angle can cause mangled corks which almost always lead to, once again, cork floaties.

The waiter style corkscrews are somewhat forgiving in this area if you position the lever as far away as possible from the worm. If you are concerned about centering – Look for a style that has frames on both sides which center the opener over the bottle. These will always center the worm entry into the cork.

Finding the elusive corkscrew that works easily and perfectly every time doesn’t have to be difficult and frustrating. You know what you want – Easy, smooth, maybe even artistic but most importantly problem free every time ! No more wondering – No more guessing – No more confusion. You are now prepared to evaluate a good selection of corkscrews using these easy steps to find that elusive corkscrew that doesn’t just work but does the job right each and every time.

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