Snooth Blog

Snooth User: ahall

Wine Openers

Posted by ahall, Jan 24, 2008.

You just came home from a long day at work. The kids are fast asleep. Now it’s time for to relax with a nice glass of wine, like Wolf Blass Cabernet Sauvignon Black Label . You go to the kitchen drawer, extract your wine opener and raise it to the bottle. After you attempt to open the wine, the unthinkable happens… the cork breaks!

How many times has this happened to you? Again, you are screaming at the wine opener, as you place it back into the bottle for a second attempt. You are now at a crossroads: pray you can get that sucker out in one piece or start thinking of grand excuses why the wine has cork pieces swimming in it. How embarrassing…

Waiters and waitresses make it seem so easy - it must be since they practice so much. Well, I have been drinking and opening wine for roughly 10 years now, and I still can’t seem to stop breaking a few corks every now and then. Thus, I have decided my troubles are the fault of my wine opener. I have several in my kitchen, but I still haven’t found one that I can truly depend on. I’ve got the $1 liquor store plastic wonder, the cheap wing corkscrew opener ($5-$7), the Waiter’s corkscrew ($5-$10), and the two-prong corkscrew ($10-$12 - though quite helpful in extracting already broken corks but are quite difficult to use). The only one not in my collection is the most expensive opener - the Rabbit ($50+). My fear is that if I spend a lot on an expensive wine opener, it will fail me just the same as the others and I’ll just be out more money. So, what’s the best opener? Do I pay for what I get, or is there a compromise?

I have heard two sides of this story. The first side claims that all wine openers are the same and I need to just slow down and take my time. The second side claims that if you really are a true wine lover, a good opener is imperative no matter what the cost.
So I must know - is The Rabbit the answer to my troubles? What do you fellow Snoothers find works best? If you do have The Rabbit(or openers with similar designs), what are the positives and negatives. I’d love to solve my wine opening dilemma before it’s time to open the next bottle.

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Blog comment by Annie, Jan 24, 2008.

I've got a cheaper version of The Rabbit and I never have a problem with it. Before getting that opener, my problem was less the broken cork and more the muscle power. I could get a cork about 1/4 of the way out and then the negative pressure in the bottle thwarts me.

time to go back to the gym i guess?

Reply by Philip James, Jan 24, 2008.

I use a basic lever corkscrew (I believe its the 'waiters friend' type) and it's served me well, although at the wine messenger we'd basically wear them out, opening 2,000 bottles or so a year.

The other type that is worth having around, particularly for cork collectors or for getting a crumbly cork out, is the amusingly named Ah-So corkscrew. Basically, 2 prongs which slide around the cork and pull it out intact.

They look unique and people who've never seen them are sure to doubt of their utility, but they are a very good backup.

Reply by Mark Angelillo, Jan 24, 2008.

I was gifted a Rabbit at some point and I have to say I only use it when I really want to spoil myself. They're so easy to use it makes it seem like I'm cheating -- right down to the point where it grabs onto the cork to pull it off the corkscrew after you've already extracted it from the bottle...

Blog comment by Clint, Jan 24, 2008.

First of all, I think one of the two famous devices has to give up the name "The Rabbit" because the overlap is disconcerting and uncomfortable, especially since I'm about to talk about my parents. That aside, my folks have a Rabbit and it's awesome. But it does feel like cheating.

They also have a neighbor (not a new kind of corkscrew - the "person" kind of neighbor) who is some sort of big shot in an international corkscrew collectors club. This is a real thing. They apparently have a convention once or twice a year in different parts of the world - they just came back from Australia for the yearly show out there. Must be nice.

Blog comment by CNSmith, Jan 25, 2008.

Ditch the Rabbit!!

Get a waiter's Pulltap. Had one for five years with no breakage.

Charles Smith

Reply by Philip James, Jan 25, 2008.

Charles - thats what i use. As long as you get a semi-decent one (ie. not $2 disposable kind) it'll last a few thousand bottles for sure.

The key for these is to get the hinged lever one to minimize your heaving, and to get one with a good worm. Good means that it follows the thread shape, not the kind that the point centers. Those are for drilling our a bore hole!

Blog comment by Alesha, Jan 26, 2008.

Hmm... sounds like I need to wish list a good wine opener along with my favorite wines.

Blog comment by Victor, Feb 4, 2008.

Without a doubt the waiters friend pulltap type of corkscrew is the best. It's simple, small and easy to use. Try puting yor rabbit into pocket ;) I only use pulltaps in my work and to open my own wines. Sometimes I get the broken cork but it's not a problem to take out the rest of broken cork from bottle with pulltaps, and with rabbit it can be kind of tricky. Oh, and the neighbor mentioned by Clint is really the Real Thing, but only for conservative professionals!

Reply by GregAtchley, Feb 17, 2009.

I'm really happy to see so many other fans of the Pulltap. Those folks have absolutely perfected that type of corkscrew. That is by far my favorite and the only one I recommend to friends and business associates. It's amazing to me how often a server approaches the table with a great bottle of wine yet equipped with the worst corkscrews imaginable. Rabbits are great (for adolescents), as mentioned above, but too cumbersome for me and somehow diminish the pleasure of opening a bottle. I like the Pulltap so much, I shelled out a few extra bucks for their Toledo model. A beautiful piece which is in my opinion superior in design to Laguiole, and less expensive!

Reply by RachelNYC, Feb 17, 2009.

I have to say that I love my rabbit. I never break any corks with it, and when I am entertaining it is a life saver. It makes it very easy, but I don't feel guilty about that personally. The waiter's friend works great, but personally I run into issues with upper body strength and breaking the cork with a 1/3 - 1/4 left in the bottle.

Reply by GregAtchley, Feb 17, 2009.

You're right. It all boils down whatever it takes to get the wine into the glass.

I've heard that sometimes with older bottles the spiral can really cause problems with the cork (sadly I don't have anything that old OR noteworthy to contend with) and that the two pronged extractor works better.

Anybody ever use one of those CO2 extractors?

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Feb 17, 2009.

I personally have a few waiter's friends, which I prefer, and the two-pronged ah-so, which is a necessity as one who opens my fair share of older bottles. But then again I have also used a steak knife, slid down the side of the cork it worked like a magic single pronged ah-so, and a large wooden spoon which worked, well like a large wooden spoon. I used the handle to push to cork in!

I got the wine out!

I've used the co2 extractor for older, fragile corks, It works quite well if you can get the needle all the way in, again generally by running between the bottle and the cork. For newer corks they can be dangerous as a cork with a good seal can require alot of pressure to start moving.

Reply by alavaughn, Feb 18, 2009.

I am a faithful user of the Pulltaps variety. You can now buy them at Trader Joe's for something like $4.99. If a cork does break though, you can always strain the little cork pieces out with a good old coffee filter, no problem! On the stranger side of opening wine, I learned how to open a bottle of wine using a tree while I was camping with friends in Montana. If you are ever in a pinch, this works. Find a tree with a knot on the side of it. Take the bottle of wine and smash the bottom of it directly centered on the knot. Repeat. The cork will gradually slide out of the bottle. Obviously not recommended for older or precious bottles, but to just get that damn bottle open, it works like a charm!

Reply by merosler, Aug 15, 2012.

I've got a draw full of wine opening gadgets.  The Rabbit's in there too....I think it's too heavy and clumsy.  I recently ordered a $30 Ozeri rechargeable opener and it just came.  Sorry Rabbit, you're tricks are for kids! :)  Love this new one because it's very powerful and it even has a light if you're opening a bottle in a romantic setting.  Has anyone else heard of this or comparable openers?



Reply by EMark, Aug 16, 2012.

I'm glad that this discussion has been resurrected.  I have a question about larger format bottles.  I have a couple double mags (3L) of wine that I purschased at some charity auctions years ago.  We are going to be celebrating next month and I am thinking that it would be fun to open up one of these.  My only experience opening a large bottle was last summer when we had a group over, and I opened a mag of Cab.  It was only barely adequate, but the opener that I pulled out of the drawer (and I really don't remember what I used) did do the trick.  That will never work for a double mag.

Can anybody give me any suggestions?

Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 16, 2012.

Was the issue the length of the cork?  I think one of those screwpulls with the long worm could be in order.  I also think the hinged PullTap is useful because you don't put as much stress on the cork--more of the effort goes in the upward direction instead of pulling against the side of the bottle.  Most double pronged cork pullers are on the short side, IMO. 

Reply by lingprof, Aug 16, 2012.

this is why i love snooth, lol.  as an aside, i've always been in the camp of "will lose self-respect if I buy a rabbit" but hearing people's positive experiences (mainly women) makes me want to give it a second look....

Reply by EMark, Aug 16, 2012.

The issue that bothers me, Fox,  is the diameter of the bottle opening.  Openers that I have do not play well with wider throats.  Now, yes, I have never spent more than a couple bucks on an opener.  I'll look for the PullTap brand and see if that looks better.

I do have a Rabbitt, that I do not use that often, because, frankly, I find it a tad difficult to balance squeeze the grip and balance the bottle with one hand and futz with the lever in the other.  I clamped the Rabbit on one the double mags, today, and, while it might work, I think it will be a two man effort.

LingProf, my favorite opener is one of those "butterfly" openers that most afficionados totally poo-poo.  It definitely will not work on the double mag

Reply by outthere, Aug 16, 2012.

Corkscrews? We don't need no stinking corkscrews!

Reply by EMark, Aug 16, 2012.

Thank you, Alfonso.

That guy may just solve my dilemma.

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