Three favourite corkscrews
This is my everyday corkscrew. It rarely lets me down. It’s two strongest features are the black Teflon-coated worm, which allows easy penetration into the toughest corks, and the double-action, which prevents the cork from bending too much and breaking. When the Teflon wears out, as it eventually will, I throw it into my “bits and pieces” drawer and buy a new one. They last about a year in my house.
The corkscrew has a small, serrated knife that I don’t like very much. Its jagged edge makes it difficult to cut a capsule cleanly. It really makes a mess of lead capsules, although these are less common since the discovery that wine can react with the lead to produce toxic lead oxides.
Pulltap’s corkscrews have a reassuring feel and weight. I’ve been using them for years and have never had one break. When corks ruled I always carried a Pulltap’s and donate around a dozen to various airlines after they changed the rules and barred them from carry-on baggage.
I have a large collection of corkscrews but if I were allowed to keep just one, this would be it.
When opening a bottle that’s more than ten year’s old there is a real risk that the cork will crumble and break. My faithful old “Ah-So” corkscrew will succeed in removing old corks when conventional spiral corkscrews fail. I bought my first “Ah-So” during a visit to San Francisco in 1977. It’s a little buckled now but still works, although I’ve retired it from regular use in favour of a newer model (pictured) which isn’t branded.
By rocking the corkscrew back and forth it is possible to work the two prongs down the side of the cork taking care not to push a loose cork into the bottle (I have another gadget for removing corks that have been pushed into the bottle). Once the “Ah-So” has been fully inserted you then twist the handle in a circular motion and gradually extract the cork as you swivel. Some old corks “sucker” onto the side of the glass. The “Ah-So” effectively breaks that seal.
The “Ah-So” is not easy to use, but it’s worth its weight when gaining access to old bottles.
I have a small collection of bench-mounted corkscrews from Britain and the US. The Champion is British (as the name suggests). My wife, Marion, bought it for my birthday in the early seventies. She found it in a junk shop and paid NZD $15 for it, a tidy sum in those days. The junk shop owner didn’t know what it was.
For many years I used my Champion (pictured) to open all wines. It has a clever mechanism that allows the user to clamp the bottle in the corkscrew and then penetrate and withdraw the cork using just one action of the handle. When the bottle is removed you simply push the lever back and the cork drops out. On some occasions, I would leave the cork in the machine until I’d sampled the bottle, which was then re-clamped and re-corked when I pushed the lever back. Very clever.
My Champion lasted several decades until I snapped the worm while trying to remove a plastic cork. I was devastated but eventually got a replacement worm. I’ve since retired the Champion from active service, although it still works perfectly.