Venerable French gadget maker Peugeot has come up with a handsome lever-pull wine opener that works well and looks great on a bar.
The lever feels uncomfortable in your hand—a design flaw.
Easy operation, solid performance, and a handsome design should make this baby a keeper for even the casual wine drinker.
We’ve all been there: the dinner guests you want to impress with a nice bottle of wine, only you’ve broken the cork, and now you’re desperately trying to jam a cork fragment down into the bottle. Best-case scenario, you pour out a few glugs at a time of Cabernet peppered with crumbled cork.
Few things cause anxiety like wine does, including getting it out of the bottle. The quest for the perfect opener—butler’s friends, double-wingers, twists, lever pulls—spawned today’s huge wine accessories market. Wine geeks may have their favorites, but no opener seems 100 percent satisfying, especially for the casual drinker who hasn’t opened enough bottles to be adept with any one kind. Enter the Peugeot Baltaz.
Peugeot is a 200-year-old French manufacturer of small kitchen machinery, best known in the U.S. for pepper mills (Peugeot the maker of automobiles branched off from the kitchen machinery company in 1896). Another French kitchenware maker, Le Creuset, popularized the Screwpull design in the 1990s (main features: lever-pull action and a nonstick corkscrew, or “worm”). Then came the Faucet from Metrokane, an American company, which Le Creuset said infringed on its patent. After Le Creuset’s patent expired in 1999, Metrokane launched its own version of the lever pull, the Rabbit, advertising it so heavily it became a household name, even for casual wine drinkers.
The Peugeot Baltaz is yet another version of the lever pull, similar to both the original Screwpull and the second-gen Rabbit. What Baltaz brings to the table is materials: All the parts are metal, the same kind of quality materials Peugeot’s pepper mills are known for. It has a substantial feel that makes it appropriate as a gift for someone who loves wine or has a nice bar.
This is a heavy metal gadget—the Baltaz weighs 1 pound and measures 7 inches across, 5.5 inches high, and 4.5 inches wide. The dark chromed finish is called Basalte (i.e., basalt); it alternates with panels of matte gray (black with chrome is the other option). The inner pivot ring is made of brass. The two-part handle has a rubbery material on the inside, so it’s comfortable to grab and hold. And the two halves of the handle stay open (until you squeeze them closed around a bottle neck), so the Baltaz can sit upright on a bar or table. The screw (the previously mentioned worm) has a nonstick coating (unspecified) to facilitate cork release. You get a replacement worm with the Baltaz, along with a multilingual instruction booklet, all in a magnetic-fasten box about the size of a serious library book. And it comes with a two-year warranty against defects.
We tested the Peugeot Baltaz on multiple bottles of wine with an eye on three main criteria: how easy it is to pull a cork, how well the cork releases, and how easy general handling is.
Pulling corks: The two-part handle fit easily around the bottle necks we tried—skinny or thick, it closed well and felt secure. As with all lever pulls, you start with the lever in the open position, then bring it down so the worm can drill into the cork. This takes some strength for all lever pulls, and the Baltaz is no exception. The issue here is the lever’s grip: It’s uncomfortable, with sharp edges along the rim that didn’t feel particularly good pressed against our fingers. Peugeot made sure to line the handle with a comfortable rubbery material, but failed to put it on the lever, where your hand exerts the most pressure (grasping it with a cloth napkin or bar towel is an easy fix). The lever action worked well, drawing a variety of corks with average exertion. Score: B+.
Cork release: Generally good—the corks didn’t drop by themselves, but only a small portion of the worm remained in the corks; removing them all the way took scant effort. Score: B+.
General handling: Despite its weight, the Baltaz is pretty easy to work with—the two handles don’t feel like awkward wings you have to wrangle shut, and the lever’s gear movement is pretty smooth. Replacing the worm is as easy as unscrewing a nut and twisting a few times. Overall, this is a wine accessory we’d actually use. Score: A.
Photos by Chris Rochelle