I am actually talking about a truly indispensable part of the wine world. A tool that is absolutely vital. When caught without one, life as you know it can fall apart.
Of course, I am talking about the humble corkscrew. According to various internet sources, the first corkscrew design was inspired by the gun worm used to remove the nasty bits from a musket’s barrel (unrelated to the Muscat grape) to then be patented as we know it in 1795.
Corkscrew designs haven’t stopped since, bending the limits of popping corks and physics, offering various levels of price and indeed functionality. You’d be known as a ‘Helixophile’ if you collect them. I know one or two. And can’t blame them. There are literally thousands to choose from. But often you find that very few are actually any good. So, here’s a couple pointers that may help you along the way.
Have always reminded me of a Mantis stick insect. Not sure why.
Pros: Relatively low risk. Also satisfying to watch those wings slowly levitate up as you twist down. Come in all shapes, sizes and at various price points.
Cons: You don’t always get a smooth and well finished POP when the cork slips out. Both hands required to push the wings down. Also, unless they are very deep, tricky to keep in your pocket. But if so they can get a bit stabby in there.
The must have kitchen gadget?
Pros: Can look rather exotic and be an exciting addition for any dinner party.
Cons: Call me an old romantic, but this lacks that ‘finesse!’ a dear French friend once told me over 30 minutes why this the most important part of wine... They aren’t cheap. You’ll need batteries and will it still work after 40 years?
An internet and pub story classic.
Pros: You should have one nearby. And a backup if you can’t find the first one. Impressive if you pull it off.
Cons: Rarely pulled off. Best attempted outdoors.
The Double-Hinged Waiter’s Friend
A friend for life.
Pros: Slips seamlessly into your pocket. Cheap with also expensive options, which make for lifelong gifts. Reliable. After practice you can simultaneously open a bottle whilst talking or watching the telly. One hand on the bottle, the other holding the corkscrew itself – pop and voilà! Barely any stains on the carpet.
Cons: Reliably not where you left them.
As you may have noticed, myself included and likely many others in the industry will be biased to the last option, the humble Waiter’s Friend. Screaming simplicity, it gets the job done again and again and only lets you down when it’s not by your side.
BUT this is just my opinion. Above all else, use whatever you find best for you. Just make sure it ends in a good pop and creates some happy memories. As after all, that is what good wine is really about.