Not a new subject I know, but it has never been a problem for me until now, my old winged lever corkscrew that I have had for over thirty years and which must have opened thousands of bottles, and which apart from a couple of crumbly corks and one made of concrete! has never failed to extract all others, has expired and gone to that place all old corkscrews go to, the bin.
That old friend cost next to nothing, it was a generic model probably purchased in a supermarket, to long ago to remember.
Before everyone suggests the perennial favorite among the winerati, the waiters friend, I do have two or three in a drawer, one was given to me at Maison Perrin in CnP with a case of wine I purchased, one has been knocking around for years and another is a Pulltap which is quite robust.
But I have never been convinced with the waiters friend, their one big attraction is their pocketability, attacking difficult corks though I have found them wanting, the inclination to start going off at an angle with a tough cork has resulted in a snapped cork in the past, and I am sure we have all seen wine waiters struggling with a resistant cork in restaurants, so not quite the holy grail of cork extractors that many would have us believe.
Unfortunately the quality of winged corkscrews is appalling, the list on Amazon goes to over 10,000! of which you can bet whatever is on the label 99% are made in China, I did buy a couple after ‘research’ but they were still rubbish, and even the WMF ones come with a warning about snapped spirals and poor quality arms, they to are probably no longer made in Germany.
I have got a couple of antique corkscrews that I picked up at a market in France awhile back, they work but are cumbersome and for viewing not using on a regular basis, and I did own a Big Campagnolo corkscrew.
This was given to me by the son of Tulio Campagnolo the founder of the company who had sold out and was running an hotel we stayed at in Italy, he gave it to me when we spoke one evening about my cycle racing days over a glass of wine, but beautifully made as it is, the weight alone meant it was never used, a talking piece yes, a working corkscrew, no.
There are a couple of decent winged corkscrews out there, one is by Vacu vin but I can’t track one down for sale here at the moment, as for the Screwpull type I owned in the past, they were useless with a recalcitrant cork, the one I had actually stretched the spiral with a tough cork plus you had to grip very tight to stop the lugs slipping over the top of the bottle with that same type of cork, so no joy there.
Really I am past the romance? of withdrawing a cork and that satisfying plop, the novelty wore off years ago, I no longer care if the cork is of sustainable material, plastic or a compound TCA free or anything else, all I want is a reliable efficient means of getting at the wine, something simple that works with all corks with minimum fuss, perhaps an electric one is the answer, though I have no knowledge of them, or a counter top version, though again you have to have a dedicated area for them, or even better do away with all corks, heresy I know, and just have screwcaps, there problem solved.