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October 07, 2008 - Italian Wines

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Wine Openers: And the Cork Comes Off

Opening a bottle of wine can be of great difficulty for some people, particularly the wine novice. This is because wine, unlike other types of alcohol, doesn't always come with a twist-off bottle cap or a pull tab that allows for easy access. Instead, wine usually must be opened in other ways. While some people may get creative - using their teeth or trying to draw the cork out of the bottle with a flute and a snake charmer's attitude - most people simply invest in some sort of wine opener.

The concept of a wine opener, however, isn't exceptionally simple, with several different types of wine openers to choose from. Some people may have no idea what a wine opener looks like, others may have no idea where to buy one. Some people may think that a wine opener is an opening joke bottles of Merlot tell each other ("Okay, two bottles of Chardonnay walked into a bar, one of them spilled."), while others may simply think that a wine opener is a waiter.

But, no matter what preconceived notions people possess regarding wine openers, they are essential to the wine drinking community. Without them, we will remain thirsty.

Types of Wine Openers

It is estimated that there are hundreds of devices designed simply for the purpose of removing a cork from a wine bottle. Most of these involve some sort of corkscrews. Corkscrews are usually either Archimedian Screws or Helix Screws. According to some, Archimedian Screws have a bad reputation, known for chewing into the cork and causing parts to break off, peppering the wine with bits of wood. This is why many wine lovers prefer the Helix Screw, a screw that has a better grip, allowing a more complete cork removal.

As for all the different types of wine openers, there are quite a few. From wine openers encased in silver to those engraved with the initials of people celebrating a 50 year wedding anniversary, wine openers come in all shapes, sizes and forms. The following includes a list of some of the most common:

The Waiter?s Corkscrew: The Waiter's Corkscrew is a corkscrew that comes with a knife-edge, a lever, and a Helix screw that all fold neatly into the body. This opener gets its name because it's the type many waiters carry, armed with the ability to open any bottle that may come to the table.

The Screwpull Corkscrew: The Screwpull corkscrew also involves a Helix screw. For the Screwpull, a simple device that looks like a clothespin is coupled with clockwise twisting. The clockwise twisting digs the corkscrew into the cork, allowing it to be pulled out with relative ease.

The Winged Corkscrew: The Winged Corkscrew gets its name because it appears as though it has wings, with two parts of it stuck out like a bird in flight. When the wings are pushed down, they work to take out the cork, pulling it up. However, Winged Corkscrews can be tough to use on corks that are exceptionally long. For these kinds of corks, the corkscrew may not dig into enough of the cork to fully extract it, causing the Winged Corkscrew to have trouble landing.

Ahso: An Ahso often gets put into the same category as a corkscrew, but technically is not one. This is because it doesn?t involve anything that can be technically defined as a ?screw.? Instead, an Ahso is a two pronged device that is used with a seesaw motion to remove the cork from the bottle's neck.

Table Top Wine Opener: The Table Top Wine Opener is a heavy duty wine opener, like a wine opener used to uncork industrial sized wine. This kind of wine opener involves using the table as a base, allowing the wine opener to rest on the flat surface. The Table Top Wine Opener can be more expensive than others, with some people looking at the price and assuming a table is included, but they often open wine at an expedited rate.

The Rabbit Corkscrew: Some people may assume that the quick speed of the Rabbit Corkscrew (opening wine bottles in under three seconds) explains the reproductive habits of bunnies as they, inebriated by large amounts of wine, make rash decisions and use poor judgment. But, the Rabbit Corkscrew is called so not because of its affect on bunny breeding, but because of the semblance it has to rabbit ears.

Where to Buy Wine Openers

The Internet is a great place to buy wine openers. This is because it shows the variety of corkscrews while often offering reviews written by consumers. It also allows for easy price comparison.

For those not quite into cyber shopping, home accessory stores, grocery stores, and wine stores all sell a large variety of wine openers. Liquor stores ? those not specializing in wine ? also sell wine openers, though their selection is very basic and geared more towards uncorking wine on the fly instead of purchasing a strong wine opener to use over time.

How Much to Spend

Wine openers can differ greatly in price, ranging from a basic wine opener costing a few dollars to a five hundred dollar opener used at bars and restaurants. Your purchase will be based on a few things: how much wine you drink, how easily and quickly you want your bottles opened, and how much you want to spend.

If you own a restaurant, a bar, or frequently host large parties, you should purchase a wine opener that allows you to open wine quickly with little concentration or effort. However, if you aren?t in a rush to open bottles and don?t mind spending a few more minutes with a cork, a simpler, less expensive wine opener will do. Ultimately, keep in mind whether you spend a couple hundred dollars or a couple dollars, all wine openers have a common goal: get the cork out and the wine in a glass.

Opening a bottle of wine can be frustrating for those who are new to the process. In a world of twist off and pull tabs, the concept of the cork remains almost nostalgic, reminding us of openers of yore. But, after a little practice, even the truest wine novice will find that opening a bottle of wine is not that difficult. It may take some time to master, but it?s certainly nothing to come uncorked about.

Jennifer Jordan is the senior editor at With a vast knowledge of wine etiquette, she writes articles on everything from how to hold a glass of wine to how to hold your hair back after too many glasses. Ultimately, she writes her articles with the intention that readers will remember wine is fun and each glass of anything fun should always be savored.

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Wine Openers: And the Cork Comes Off

Opening a bottle of wine can be of great difficulty for some people, particularly the wine novice. This is because wine, unlike other types of alcohol...

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