The first corkscrew was patented in Oxford, England, in 1795 by Reverend Samuel Henshall. This basic twist corkscrew was so effective that it was widely used for more than 100 years. While the basic corkscrew is still available for purchase, there are now dozens of other corkscrew varieties to choose from. These are today’s most popular varieties:
1.Waiter’s Corkscrew: Also known as a wine key, it has many variations, but frequently it relies on a double hinge that provides extra leverage to make it easier to remove the cork. With its folded body, it resembles a pocket knife. A tiny knife blade, for cutting the foil wrapping on the bottle’s neck, can be found in the handle, which can be crafted in a variety of different materials, including wood and metal. Quick, efficient—and lightweight —no wonder top waiters and sommeliers have been using it for decades.
2.Winged Corkscrews: This popular piece first showed up in the US in the 1930s. As the screw is twisted into the cork, the two levers (the “arms”) are raised; pushing down the levers pulls the cork from the bottle. Oenophiles should ensure they select a variety with a thin screw. Otherwise, it may shred the cork.
3.Lever Corkscrews: Because it is so simple to operate, this is the type of corkscrew most often recommended to beginners. Also known as the bunny ears — the two long levers clearly resemble rabbit ears — it has two handles that hold the bottle in place. After the screw is inserted, the levers are squeezed together and the cork should pop right out.
4.Electric Wine Openers: Mostly battery-powered, these simple-to-use openers require no physical strength at all, making them ideal for the elderly or anyone who happens to have limited arm mobility. Simply push a button and a corkscrew will insert itself into the cork. Many of them also have a foil removal process, too.
5.Ah So Wine Openers: This wine opener is more difficult to use than the other options, but it is ideal for opening vintage bottles of wine or any other bottles which may be sealed with corks that have become brittle. That’s because it is specifically designed to avoid damaging the cork. How does it work? Two thin metal prongs attached to a handle are slid in between the cork and the bottle. Simply twist the handle, pull up, and the cork should come out. Nicknamed the “Butler’s Friend,” because any servant could easily use it to remove the cork, take a quick swig, and then replace it without anyone noticing the bottle had been tampered with. The Ah So has even been known to come to the rescue when a broken cork is stuck in the bottleneck.
6.Air Pressure Wine Openers: This opener uses a needle in place of a screw. Once the hollow needle is inserted all the way through the cork, the simple press of a button sends a small amount of CO2 into the bottle, which immediately pushes the cork out of the bottleneck. Some air pressure openers use pumps instead of automated buttons. It’s fast and requires no exertion, making it the ideal option for a reception when you need to open multiple bottles at the same time. That said, an opener usually only lasts for about 80 to 100 uses, although some come with refillable CO2 packs.