Fabiano is not alone in her penchant for waiter’s corkscrews. This is a unanimous pick amongst all of the experts we consulted. “In my opinion, the only wine opener you need is the basic waiter’s wine key,” says Elise Terlato, an associate marketing manager for Terlato Wines. Wine critic Jeb Dunnuck agrees: “Unquestionably, my favorite is the waiter’s corkscrew. This is a simple, easy-to-use design with the best being long-lived as well. I open between 1,000 to 2,000 bottles a year at home and open 99 percent of them with a simple, single-hinged waiter’s corkscrew.” This model, a patented spring-loaded key by Coutale Sommelier, has two steps for added leverage, but can also be used as a single lever, depending on your preference. The wine key is designed by a French winemaker and is available in either stainless steel or three different types of wood, each style featuring a stainless steel grooved worm, a serrated knife for easy foil removal and a lifetime guarantee.
When it comes to using a waiter’s friend, Dunnuck has a few tips for novices:
- Make sure the corkscrew goes into the center of the cork “and penetrates far enough” to include as much of the cork as possible. “This will help with more fragile, older corks,” he added.
- Secondly, pull the cork straight up and don’t torque the cork to one side or another. “A double-hinged waiter’s corkscrew will help with this, Dunnuck noted, “but it can easily be done with a single hinged corkscrew with just a little practice.”
Lever systems are a great option for effortless cork removal, too, though be aware that they take up much more room than a wine key, which can easily slip inside any pocket or drawer. Le Creuset’s model uses a “patented rotation and lever-driven technology” to remove any natural cork (it’s designed to effectively pull older and more fragile corks, too) — it also comes with a foil cutter for easy and clean foil removal, and the duo is packaged in its own sleek storage case. With this lever system, you’ll be pulling out your corks in one smooth, fluid motion.
Air pump wine openers are another useful option for those with limited mobility. This particular model, the HOST AirPOP, operates via a compressed inert gas system — it essentially does all the work for you with the touch of a button.
- To use, remove the bottle’s foil and insert the needle into the cork (make sure it’s dead center)
- Then push the button at the top to remove the cork.
- To remove the cork from the opener once it’s been pulled from the bottle, just twist the mechanism at the bottom of the device.
If you’re looking to splurge on a fancy wine key, French knife brand Laguiole is an excellent and well-respected option to consider. “When entertaining, I will bring out my Laguiole wine keys,” said Terlato. “I received them as a gift and they have been a great table conversation piece.” These stunning pieces are costly — they’re of exceptional quality and make for excellent wine gifts. This particular model features a turquoise handle and stainless steel hardware.