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If you’ve ever had to MacGuyver open a bottle of wine, you know the value of an excellent corkscrew. In true moments of desperation, I’ve used a knife and pressure, which I highly don’t recommend.
What I do recommend, however, is investing in a corkscrew that will take you through thick and thin. Are you a minimalist when it comes to opening wine? Do you prefer an opener that can simultaneously sit on your bar as a piece of art? Or has your experience been hand and wrist strain after opening a few bottles of white wine for a weekend dinner party?
No matter your needs, there is a corkscrew for you. I put each of these corkscrews to the test by, well, opening a few bottles of wine. I checked the sharpness of the foil cutter and how easily the hinge and corkscrew (known as the worm) worked together to free the cork.
Whether you're looking to make your weeknights easier or need a gift for an experienced wine collector, here are the best corkscrews.
Best Overall: OXO Steel Double Lever Waiters Corkscrew
What We Love: Rubber provides a nonslip grip, made to last
What We Don't Love: Heavier than a traditional double-lever corkscrew
OXO is known for its well-designed kitchen tools—it makes some of our editors' favorite things—and this corkscrew is no exception. The rubber coating on the corkscrew’s exterior makes it easy to hold and manipulate, and the corkscrew worm has a nonstick coating, for easier cork extraction. The double-pull on this corkscrew is a notch, not a hinge, but it still opens bottles just as easily as a proper double-hinged opener.
During testing, the beak-like foil cutter performed nicely and didn't tear the foil. Both cork extractions went smoothly without any breakage or cork bits left behind in the wine. The one caveat is that it's a little on the heavier side for a waiter’s style corkscrew, but that’s a small price to pay for excellent results.
Material: Stainless steel, nonstick coating | Dimensions: 1.5 x 5.5 inches
Best Budget: True Truetap Waiter's Corkscrew
What We Love: Easy to use, light, available in many colors, inexpensive
What We Don’t Love: The knife is not particularly sharp
Akin to the black standard corkscrews carried by servers at restaurants everywhere, this affordable, double-hinged option is coated in a black coated worm to help ease it into the cork. It’s small and light and can easily fit into a pocket or purse, should you find yourself in need. When I tested it by opening bottles, the cork didn't break and the hinge seemed moderately durable, but I suspect this won't become a family heirloom.
It got knocked down a few notches with the foil cutter test. A serrated knife is not the best foil opener on the market, but it will do the trick when necessary. Here, it slightly tore the foil, which can lead to sharp edges if you're not careful. Overall, it’s a reliable standard for those who wish to spend a little less to get the job done.
Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions (LxWxH): 1 x 4.75 inches
Best Winged: Peugeot Baltaz Lever Corkscrew
What We Love: Sleek, easy-to-use, doesn't require a lot of force, comes with a replacement worm
What We Don’t Love: Pricey, large
If you've moved beyond hinged corkscrews, or simply don't want to struggle anymore when opening up a wine bottle, it's time to look into acquiring a winged corkscrew. Lovely to look at and easy to use, this Peugeot corkscrew is a thing of beauty.
The Peugeot's functional foil cutter is separate, and the corkscrew itself operates quickly and efficiently with no more than a squeeze of the hand. In testing, this corkscrew performed really well and got bonus points for coming with a backup nonstick-coated worm. There are a few downsides though, including the high price as well as the size of it; this is a corkscrew for a larger kitchen, for sure.
Material: Metal | Dimensions (LxWxH): 5 x 5 x 2.25 inches
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Best Splurge: Laguiole Tradition Ebony Handmade Corkscrew
What We Love: Beautiful, substantial, great for most bottles
What We Don't Love: Expensive, can be hard to use
An engravable luxury wine key with a black wooden handle, this Laguiole corkscrew feels great in the hand. It’s substantial, smooth, and lovely to look at, and would make a great gift for the wine connoisseur. There are a few drawbacks that make this for the experts, not beginners.
First, this corkscrew has no double-hinge, meaning that it can be a little tricky to extricate corks from bottles without more force, which can sometimes mean breakage. Breakage didn't happen during testing, but this is probably a better corkscrew for someone who is well-practiced at opening wine. Additionally, the worm is uncoated, something that adds to the aesthetic, but maybe not the ease of use. On the plus side, the foil-cutter knife is razor-sharp so no rips or tears there.
Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions (LxWxH): 5.7 x 4.8 x 1.5 inches
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Best for Tricky Bottles: The Durand Corkscrew
What We Love: Adept at extracting old and dry corks, great gift for a wine collector
What We Don't Love: Very expensive
This is truly a specialty corkscrew for the oenophiles among us. Used specifically to extract corks from uncooperative bottles, this corkscrew is a must for the wine collector, old bottle devotee, and all-around wine geek. They are familiar with dried-out or fragile corks that can literally crumble under the pressure of a regular wine key, leaving behind a broken cork or lots of little cork bits floating in your very expensive wine.
It’s not an inexpensive tool though, and it isn’t the best way to open all bottles. Since it's only made for certain types of cork, there's no foil cutter or hinge. You have to take the two pieces apart, inserting the corkscrew first, then forcing the prongs in-between the cork and bottle to keep the cork held together. Once the two pieces are perpendicularly nesting, you slowly twist the cork out of the bottle. It does make for a great presentation and for bottles with stubborn enclosures, there is, perhaps, nothing better than this corkscrew.
Material: Metal | Dimensions (LxWxH): 6.3 x 4.6 x 2.2 inches
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The affordable OXO Steel Double Lever Waiters Corkscrew (view at Amazon) features a nonslip grip and double hinge that will help you open bottles for years to come. If you want a small affordable wine key, look no further than the True Truetap Waiter's Corkscrew (view at Amazon).
What to Look for When Buying a Corkscrew
Purchase tools that work for you, says Jena Ellenwood, an award-winning New York City-based bartender and cocktail educator "I have relatively small hands; I don’t want a super heavy or unwieldy wine-key," she says. If you find your hand slipping when opening a bottle, or the corkscrew causes your hand or wrist to strain, try a different model. Opening a wine bottle should be easy and effortless, and there's an ergonomic option out there for everyone.
Weight and size are specific to the person using the wine key, but your wine key should be comfortable for you. "Choosing a good corkscrew or wine key is really dependent on how often you plan on using it," says Matt Montrose, an advanced sommelier, and chief administrative officer at OMvino. Montrose prefers "slim handles, so I don’t have a bulky key taking up space in my pockets," but the weight may differ by person. Like with the comfort of a corkscrew, the weight could cause hand and wrist strain, so it's okay to be picky about which corkscrew you'd like to use.
Most hinged corkscrews are of the compact pocket-size variety, with some longer than others. It's when you get into larger winged corkscrews, those will need a dedicated spot on your bar cart. They can look like complete contraptions and probably won't tuck away easily in your kitchen drawer. The size of the wine key itself may matter less than the size of the worm, says Tara Herrick, a certified sommelier and chief marketing officer at OMvino. "Bordeaux corks are longer and, when opening older wines, a longer worm allows you to get more cork before pulling it out."
What is the difference between a corkscrew and a wine key?
"[A corkscrew] can open a bottle of wine or perhaps a beer bottle, but that’s about it," says Ellenwood. It's the metal winged contraption that has a circle for the wine opening and a loop at the top of the helix. A wine key, on the other hand, "does so much more than open a bottle," she says. This will have a blade for cutting foil, a double-jointed lever, and the worm that goes into the bottle itself.
How long is open wine good for?
"After that bottle is open and exposed to air, the clock is ticking," says Ellenwood. "It’s best to refrigerate any open wine (of any varietal) to lengthen shelf-life, but even then you are looking at about three days." She suggests investing in a wine pump, which will slow things down a bit, but she does recommend drinking bottles quickly to spare their integrity.
"There's no concrete answer, unfortunately," Montrose adds. "But if you can properly remove air from a bottle and store it in the refrigerator, an open bottle can still be drinkable and enjoyable for up to a week, give or take a few days." If you don't think you'll be able to finish a bottle, remember that you can freeze wine to use later in cooking.
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Hannah Selinger has written about food and drinks for local and national publications since 2015. A former sommelier, Hannah has worked for some of New York’s top restaurant groups, including Laurent Tourondel’s BLT group and David Chang’s Momofuku group. Her work has appeared in Eater, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Wine Enthusiast, and more.
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