As the ways to consume wine evolve, it's worth remembering how to open a corked wine bottle. To do this you have to know how to use a corkscrew. In fact some of the highest quality wines only come in corked bottle form. Learning how to use a corkscrew might seem daunting at first. But with the right instruction, you too can learn how to open up just about any type of corked bottle with ease and finesse. Through the course of this article, we'll explore the different ways to do this and the tools you may use in the process.
What Is A Corkscrew?
A corkscrew is a tiny metal device that comes in a tubular shape that spirals down circularly to a pointed end. In looks, it resembles a spring with some space between each band. Unlike a spring, it does not compress under pressure. Its purpose is to twist its way into cork material so that, when it's deep enough, exerting an opposing pressure can pull the cork out of whatever it's sealing tight. In the majority of modern instances, what you're opening is a bottle of wine.
History Of Corkscrews
It was 1681 in the British Isles. Who knows how long corkscrews had been around at this point? What we do know is that this our earliest written record of corkscrews being used. It was described as a 'steel worm' at the time 'used for the drawing of corks out of bottles.' It wasn't just for wine either. Many different substances were stored in corked bottles during this period. We're not sure exactly who invented it, but it's thought to have been derived from a similar device that dislodged bullets stuck in the barrels of long rifles.
The device itself was patented in 1795. A man by the name of Samuel Henshall of England sought to keep a strong grip on the market for corkscrews. But like any all-purpose invention, it was only a matter of time before knock-offs and variations were made.
In other parts of the world, people like Carl Wienke in Germany invented variations on the corkscrew. His was called 'The Butler's Best Friend.' The British didn't stop making them, either. Another popular model in the UK became the A1 Heeley Double Lever. Even the Americans got in on the action, producing The Walker Bell in 1900.
Different Types Of Corkscrews
We've just mentioned a few historical examples, but today there are still a variety of different corkscrews you can learn how to use. We'll break down some of the most popular designs here.
The Twist Corkscrew
This is a variation on the original 1795 patent. It has a single handle that twists in. Then it takes brute force to pull the cork out. There's nothing overly technical in terms of how to use a corkscrew here, but it gets the job done.
The Waiter's Friend
It's a little bit easier to learn how to use a corkscrew with this version. It's modeled after Carl Wienke's 'Butler's Best Friend' and is still one of the most efficient models to be found today. It has a two-tiered metallic catch that can help remove the cork no matter how far in the bottle it is. It also features a sharper serrated blade on the opposite side that's used to cut any covering or foil that may need to be removed to reach the cork. This kind of functionality helps it earn its title.
The Winged Corkscrew
One of the more user friendly methods in figuring out how to use a corkscrew, the 'winged corkscrew' gets the job done quickly. You've probably seen one before. Even if you haven't used one before, you may have played with one as a kid. We'll discuss more about how to use this one in our instructional section, but if you want to see one in action, there are plenty of online videos that demonstrate this.
Electric Wine Openers
In case you were concerned about having to put forth effort when opening your wine, there's an electric opener for that. A necessary invention in the age of convenience, this tool simply requires you to place the opening over the top of a bottle and then press a button. As long as you've positioned the device correctly, the screw will do its work and you'll be drinking wine in no time.
The Lever Corkscrew
This opener is similar to the electric version in that it only requires minimal effort. However this is due to the proper positioning of the tool's components. It has a system that locks the bottle in place first. Then the simply crafted works cause the screw to move itself. The only thing the user must do is move the lever down and then lift it up while holding the bottle clamp in place.
This simple tool can be especially useful for opening older bottles. It uses its sideways tongs to slide around the cork before pulling it out. Using this lightweight opener takes a little more finesse. When you get the hang of it, it can be used to preserve the integrity of the cork better than the previously mentioned methods.
The Coravin Wine System
This is more than a corkscrew. It's a whole system for extracting wine that bypasses cork removal completely. It features a needle like straw that slips through the cork and then sucks the wine out for you to drink. It's a unique solution that might border on being a little too tech heavy; though it will work for anyone not concerned with the cork at all.
Now we'll break down the different processes that you'll go through to use a given corkscrew. All involve a degree of proper placement and use of force in the right spots. And once this process becomes second nature, you'll associate joy with the steps it takes to open a corked bottle: from the squeaky sound of the screw itself entering the cork all the way to the popping sound of the cork's release from the bottle.
How To Use A Corkscrew Step 1
The first step is to properly place the bottom tip of the screw on the cork. If your corkscrew needs to be opened first, take it out of its resting position. Then put the sharp tip at the bottom into contact with a spot on the cork that's slightly off center. Then, depending on the model you're using, you'll either start to apply some pressure, push a button, or wrap your hand around a lever or wings.
How To Use A Corkscrew Step 2
The second step in how to use a corkscrew properly is to make sure that you properly twist your hand and wrist while keeping a good hold on the bottle itself. If you're using a more advanced model,
it may be that one of these considerations is taken care of. However if you're using a more basic version, it will help to apply consistent pressure. Then you'll methodically turn the handle of the corkscrew while holding the base of the bottle in place.
As you continue to twist, you'll notice that the screw itself will continue to go deeper and deeper into the cork itself. This is a good sign. If you can continue to keep the screw close to the center of the cork, this is a good sign. This means that it will be less likely that the cork will break apart when you pull it out of the bottle. It's easier to do this with a winged corkscrew because its design will stay centered no matter what.
How To Use A Corkscrew Step 3
Once you've twisted the corkscrew in sufficiently, it's time to pull the cork out. Before you start this part, it's important to note that you'll want to make sure you didn't twist the screw too far down. The ideal placement is about a thumb's width of the 'screw part' remaining exposed above the cork. Twisting the screw too deep could also cause the cork to break apart when you try to remove it.
When you remove the cork, you'll make a few slow rocking movements and twists into one fluid motion, or a mechanical component will. If you're using the most basic design, a bit of shimmying will be in order. However, if you're using the 'waiter's friend' it will be easier, as this tool has two different levels from which you can leverage the force you apply. If you're using a 'winged corkscrew,' the process involves pushing down on the two wings on either side while keeping the bottle itself firmly planted.
How To Use A Corkscrew Step 4
The final step involves taking your time during the final phases of removing the cork. The more you take your time as you rock, twist and pull the cork out, the less likely it will be for you to have mishaps. Mechanical openers basically eliminate this step. Once the bottle is open, enjoy your experience as the wine flows.
Ultimately, the process of learning how to use a corkscrew will pay off. You'll recognize this when you become the person who initiates the good times that flow when you open that bottle. Great experiences are best enjoyed when shared with friends and loved ones. Now that you know how to play this part in the story of a great time, you'll get to experience an even deeper level of satisfaction.
As the ways to consume wine evolve, it’s worth remembering how to open a corked wine bottle. To do this you have to know how to use a corkscrew. In fact some of the highest quality wines only come in corked bottle form. Learning how to use a corkscrew might seem daunting at first. But with the right instruction, you too can learn how to open up just about any type of corked bottle with ease and finesse. Through the course of this article, we’ll explore the different ways to do this and the tools you may use in the process.