It's A Mistake To Spend More Than $10 On A Corkscrew

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The purpose of a wine opener should be simple — to open wine. A corkscrew is indispensable for reaching that delicious elixir inside the bottle. Today, there are so many wine-opening options: the classic waiter's corkscrew (also known as a "wine key" in the service industry), the winged corkscrew that looks like a bird flapping its wings, the lever or "rabbit" corkscrew, the electric wine opener, and the list goes on. But really, opening a bottle of wine is a straightforward task that needs a straightforward tool, and the best one for the job is often the simplest and most affordable choice. 

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While there are a few reasonable tricks to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew, if you're a wine drinker, it's an essential device to have on hand. An expensive, elaborate wine opener might be tempting to add to a wedding registry, but a lot of them are unnecessarily complicated. (No shade, but does the average person really need a free-standing, made-to-order contraption that costs over $100 just to open a bottle of wine? Probably not.) The good news is that you don't need to spend more than a Hamilton on a quality corkscrew that will do the trick, get the party started, and keep the wine flowing.

A good corkscrew should have a few basic qualities

You want your wine opener to take care of a couple of things. Obviously, the most important one is that you're able to open a bottle of wine with it. That should go without saying. Your corkscrew should be easy to use, and not take you a long time to get that sucker open, or hurt your hands in the process. The only thing worse than not finding a wine opener when you need it? Struggling to get the bottle of wine opened once you've located it.

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A lot of wine bottles have a foil capsule on the top, covering the cork and part of the neck. Most wine openers have a foil cutter; it's basically a little knife that's attached to the corkscrew. This foil cutter should be adept at, yes, cutting foil. (Though here's a little insider tip: a lot of the foils on wine can just be twisted right off the bottle, with no need to break out the blade. It may not be elegant, but it's certainly efficient.)

Lastly, a corkscrew should be durable. A wine opener is absolutely useless if it breaks in half after a few bottles because it's made of cheap plastic. If you buy one that has a sturdy build, it should last you a while.

The waiter's corkscrew is often the best choice

The favorite tool of bartenders and sommeliers around the world, the waiter's corkscrew, is simple, practical, and affordable. It has all you need: a spiral worm to insert into the cork, a hinged fulcrum to provide resistance to pull the cork out, and a handy foil cutter. Its compact design is easy to slip into your pocket, and you can find basic versions for $10 or less. An industry favorite is this corkscrew from Pulltap's. (Bonus: it comes in a wide range of colors!) Next time you need an opener for your bottle of wine, head to your local liquor store; most of them sell a decent waiter's corkscrew. It's a lot safer than trying to open a wine bottle with, say, a hair straightener or a blow torch, which we do not recommend.

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One downside to the waiter's corkscrew is that it can take a minute to learn how to use it. (Once you do, though, there's usually no going back.) There's another budget-friendly option for folks who find the waiter's corkscrew a little tricky. Master Sommelier June Rodil tells Food & Wine that she prefers the two-prong cork puller from Ah-So, which helps release the cork from any potential stickiness that might've built up from the wine's sugars. It's also less than $10, so no matter which option you prefer, you can save your cash and splurge on a nice bottle of vino instead of an expensive corkscrew.

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