Three favourite cork extractors
In Australia and New Zealand, the corkscrew is an endangered species. With the vast majority of bottles of local wine now screw-capped, the corkscrew is reserved for imports and stubbornly traditional wineries such as Yalumba and By Farr. The fallback position for cork-loving Antipodean winemakers is the Diam, a taint-free composite cork, and the good news is that all cork extractors can handle Diams with ease.
I have drawers full of cork extractors – including a syringe that pumps air into the bottle, using the pressure to force the cork out – but I actually use very few of them.
Here are my three favourites. (Well, there are actually four, as I also like the Australian-designed and built Code 38, but it is rather expensive for a small instrument that is easily misplaced.)
This cast-iron monster weighs 3.3 kg and has been mounted on my various kitchen benches for 34 years, during which time it has opened uncountable bottles – I would guess many thousands. It’s semi-retired now: it got much more use in the years before screw-caps took over. I can’t say where it can be purchased, but I’ve had cause to write to the US for replacement parts three times over the years, and the people at Rogar were obliging. The Rogar website reveals it’s the Estate model.
The action is simple and reliable. You raise the handle and insert a bottle, using your left hand to clamp it tight; your right hand brings the handle up and over towards you, which inserts the auger and extracts the cork in one movement. You remove the opened bottle, then return the handle to the up-and-back position, during which it drops the cork. Magic!
One warning: on two occasions I broke an internal component when I tried to extract very tough synthetic stoppers. Don’t!
The one I come back to again and again. Light and portable; simple action; foolproof; inexpensive. The auger is Teflon coated, sharp and easy to insert. The two-stage lever makes it easy to extract tight corks and means you’re less likely to break fragile corks. All things considered, the best general-purpose corkscrew going.
This is my go-to for old, fragile and potentially crumbly corks. The action is the gentlest and least likely to break corks. The Teflon-coated auger’s length enables it to reach the bottom of the longest corks, which is important if you’re to stand a chance of pulling a very old, frail cork in one piece. If the cork breaks, you can remove the auger from the plastic body and use it to get the bits out.