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My Corkscrew has Died

corkscrews

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.
campagnolo
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.

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I personally have no issues with the quality of the murano waiters friend.

I avoid the going off at an angle problem by opening all the bottles for that session before starting to drink :joy:

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I understand all the cool kids are all using Durand corkscrews these days:

https://thedurand.com/

Too dear for me, a two stage waiters friend backed up with an ah so for especially crumbly specimens covers most situations. Much to my wife’s displeasure, I still have a bit of envy of Marcel’s simple long worm device.

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I think they’ve been disparaged on this forum, but I’ve had a screwpull style Le Creuset corkscrew for many years, and it’s effective on all but the most stubborn corks. A t-shape corkscrew with some brute force is an alternative. Also this:

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This is the the waiters friend I use, it’s made by le creuset. It’s very well made and sturdy. I’ve bought it as gifts for a few friends and they’ve loved it too!

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I have a drawer full of corkscrews of various levels of complexity, but find the one I use the most is a Monopol Ah So cork puller; it’s has never let me down.

As in the promotional video?:wink:

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:rofl: I hadn’t actually seen that until you mentioned it!

I use one of these and have never had any problems, even with the most fragile of corks.

My best friend!

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I’ve been happily using one of these for the last 10 or 15 years. No failures so far!

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I have the plastic version of this which is half the price and still works (although doesn’t look as nice). I have a Buttler’s Thief that I picked up in the Blandy’s wine lodge in Madeira for removing very old corks too. I’ve not tried the poor mans Durand technique with them both though as I’ve never really had cause.

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I love mine too. I struggle with cheap waiters friends (often chipping the bottle!), but these are great. Double hinged with a roughly serrated blade to get through even the toughest of foils. As long as you get the screw in the right place, you can’t go wrong.

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Apologies for the cross-posting but,…I think this is a good answer:

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I don’t understand the obsession with waiter’s friend. For me the winged style ones are perfect aside perhaps from the lack of a sharp tool to cut the capsule.

To be honest I probably don’t really know how to use the waiters friend properly. It seem that getting the cork out is all about brute force with these which makes the whole task inherently more risky.
Are you supposed to screw them all the way down and then use the 1st tier to start the job and the 2nd tier to finish it off?
As cerberus says, if find they always go off at an angle.

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See video above

“Loyalty to the firm”… I use the waiter’s friend corkscrew from TWS, with its name emblazoned on the handle. Bought a few years ago from the Stevenage showroom as a souvenir of my one and only visit there. Perfectly serviceable!

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I use a John Lewis own-brand stainless steel lever corkscrew bought from them a few years ago. Incomprehensibly they no longer sell it.

It works immaculately every time, with a slick, smooth mechanism. And the steel construction means that it’s better than the Le Creuset lever corkscrew, because there’s no flex in the steel, whereas the Le Creuset plastic isn’t as precisely robust (though still perfectly fine).

s-l500

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I have purchased over a dozen of brand new Screwpuls from the eBay website by means of the auction process. They are fantastic Christmas presents and are normally sold by those who received them as unwanted Wedding, Birthday or yes - Christmas gifts. Some that I have bought had a retail price exceeding £100! :open_mouth:
They (the ones that I have bid for) are unused and still in their plastic shrink wrap.
I have on average paid £15, I always go for listings ending midweek, mornings best (people in work) and not those ending Sunday afternoon as there will be many eyes on the site.
I always buy the genuine Screwpul (very often comes with a 5 or 10 year guarantee) not a Chinese copy. From here March to October is the best time to buy, November/December people looking for Christmas presents so more bidders, higher prices etc.
Hope this helps. :+1: :dragon:

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The two Screwpulls I purchased were the very first put on the market in '79 and they were faulty, they were revised with stronger spiral and plastic soon after, but twice bitten, I don’t go back for more.
Screwpull sold out to Le Crueset in the early nineties.
I should also have added the spiral coating wore very quickly on the early ones.