Nothing heralds the start of good times more than the pop of a bottle. But if you’ve ever had a cork crumble at an inopportune moment or fumbled with a screw-pull in front of a thirsty crowd, you’ll know the value of a good bottle opener.
Most classic designs share core features—a helical screw and some built-in mechanical leverage—but the best wine openers go beyond with details that make opening a Beaujolais a whole lot easier and, dare we say, fun. Picking the right one comes down to your style and needs. If you only need functionality, an elegant (but minimalist!) T-shaped screw-pull will suffice. But if you’re a host who enjoys gadgetry, an electric opener with more bells and whistles might be at the top of your list. Here are a few features to consider, plus seven stand-out options that do more than just get the job done.
Types of Wine Openers
The basic, “T”-shaped, screw-pull is the simplest in design but requires the most strength and finesse to remove the cork in one smooth motion. While it is the most likely to create that festive “pop!”, it is also the most likely to cause the odd spill or breakage. (First-timers, be warned).
Winged corkscrews may be your grandparents go-to, but it’s tough to argue with their ease of use and simple mechanics. By adding leverage and the ability to be operated on a flat surface, they’re easier to maneuver than a screw-pull, making them our everyday choice. The only downside is that they tend to be a bit larger and therefore less portable.
Lightweight, strong, and small enough to stow in an apron or coat pocket, it’s clear why this tool is favored by food and beverage professionals. Many have foil cutters, non-stick spirals that ease friction when inserting in a cork, and double hinges to leverage stubborn corks. They are available at every price point.
Occasionally, corks become brittle, shrink over time, or just don’t want to cooperate. Using a traditional corkscrew risks splitting it or turning it to mush. The Ah So is the best tool for more delicate jobs. Rather than pushing a screw directly into the middle of a cork, the thin blades of the Ah So hug the outside and provide enough pressure to hold older corks intact and free the sides of stuck ones. If you have, or plan to start, collecting older wines, this tool is a must.
Electric wine openers are relatively new to the scene and make short work of most corks and younger vintages, although older bottles with fragile corks may need more care. Our favorites include the one-touch and no-touch designs, which don’t require any tugging or pulling. An added bonus: battery-operated or rechargeable versions mean never bumping your elbows or letting your friends see you sweat.
Our Top Picks
The Best Overall: Genuine Slider Boss 150 Corkscrew, Pulltap’s
This waiter’s corkscrew from Pulltap’s offers just about everything you need in a small, affordable package. It’s pocket-sized, light, comes in eight colors (including 24-karat gold), and is even available in a design for left-handed wine lovers. The double-hinge design supplies plenty of leverage, even for stubborn corks, and the other side has a standard bottle cap opener too. It won’t clog a kitchen drawer or take up precious counter space with a charging stand. Yes, it’s pretty darn near perfect.
The Best Value: Winged Corkscrew, Houdini
Think back to your childhood kitchen drawers. Behind the manual egg beater and just beyond the ever-growing rubber band ball, there probably was a winged, butterfly-style opener. The design hasn’t needed to change much over the years, but the Houdini gently improves upon it with a sleeker body and more ergonomic handle. A nonstick coating on the screw also means fewer conversation-interrupting squeaks.
Best Timeless Design: Sommelier Waiter’s Corkscrew, Laguiole en Aubrac
This category could also have been called “the one that makes you happy every time you see it” or “the one that you’ll casually leave out when guests arrive.” Laguiole en Aubrac has been making beautiful, functional, heirloom-quality kitchen and bar equipment since 1829. While their corkscrew boasts a lithe profile, it is far from delicate. Crafted with durable chromed steel and ram’s horn, it might be your next family heirloom for generations to come. Opening great bottles of wine should feel a bit ceremonial. Why not use a tool that looks every bit as good as the wine itself?
Best Modern Design: Elis Reverse, Peugeot
Peugeot has managed to marry all of the best qualities of an electric corkscrew with a clean-lined aesthetic in their Elis Reverse. It removes corks with fully automatic, buttonless operation and then dispenses them with a quick turn of the wrist. The Elis Reverse opens 50 bottles before recharging by USB cable—no clunky stand or charging station required.
Best for Hosting Crowds: Electric Wine Opener Set, Secura
Hosting large groups is always a challenge. Why make it harder? The Secura opener set makes short work of uncorking multiple bottles by automating the process without the need to manually wind the corkscrew into each bottle. Just set the Secura on top, press one button to insert the screw and another to free the cork. Then get back to the party.
Best for Older Bottles: Two-Part Cork Puller, Durand
Bringing out “the good stuff” means you’re more likely to have an audience when it comes time to pop the cork. But older bottles present challenges that newer ones don’t, namely crumbly corks. The Durand really perfects the ah-so style of opener by adding an optional screw to secure potentially crumbly corks so they don’t make a mess right when everyone’s watching. It’s a trusted high-end opener used by sommeliers across the world. Looking for a cheaper option? The Westmark Monopol, with its smooth, comfy handle, is our runner-up pick.
Best for Savoring Wines: Coravin Pivot Wine Preservation System, Coravin
If you don’t plan on finishing an entire bottle, this tool dispenses wine without even removing the cork. Coravin’s needle system looks like a little bit of magic: Wine flows freely through the Pivot device while pouring and the needle system pushes inert, food-grade argon gas into the headspace between the wine and the cork with each pour, ensuring that the wine is never exposed to oxygen and stays fresh for up to four weeks. It’s a great option for savoring special bottles over multiple sittings without risking oxidation and compromising quality.
Ask the Experts
What type of wine opener is used the most in restaurants?
Waiter’s corkscrews, as the name suggests, are the standard for most food and beverage professionals. They deploy quickly, are made of sturdy materials, and won’t break the bank if someone “borrows” one at your next dinner party.
How long does wine last after you open it?
Typically, wine sealed with a cork is best drunk within hours of opening or decanting. If that’s not in the cards, it can last a few days when resealed with a cork or closure and refrigerated. Be sure to bring wines back up to serving temperature before opening again for the best results. Just don’t store them next to the stove. Heat and oxygen are the enemies of quality here. The more times a bottle gets opened, the more oxygen it is exposed to, hastening the decline in the wine’s quality. Heat similarly disrupts the delicate composition of wine, muting more subtle flavors and eventually “cooking” the wine.
How do I clean my wine opener?
Luckily, most openers are very low maintenance as they never come in contact with the wine itself. Some steel or nickel models are dishwasher safe, but a quick hand-wash will usually suffice. Take extra care, though, with openers made with finer materials like wood (which may require the occasional re-seasoning with food-safe oils) or electronics (where specific manufacturers instructions ought to be followed).
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