Time to be honest, when was the last time you used a corkscrew?
A while if you are choosing wines from the rich pickings of wines from Australia, New Zealand and USA. Or from wines purchased mostly with your weekly supermarket shop. Own up! The last time you touched a corkscrew was to move it out of the way in your utensil draw. Am I close? I have friends in Australia where I have to bring my own corkscrew if I take a wine from the 90’s or early 00’s along. When my parents moved recently, they got rid of their corkscrews completely!
Of course, if you are buying a mixture of wines it will be a different story. If you like French and other European wines, or even some ‘new world’ producers, your wine opener will be well used.
Still a great gift
The opportunities for corkscrews to be a part of the contemporary consumption story of wine are becoming fewer. Without a doubt, this is mostly due to the popularity of the screwcap. I have seen a few bottles with screwcaps being punished with a corkscrew. The sight is not a pretty one. I am sure that there was a blip in sales after the new airport security measures in the 00s. Since then however, sales for the humble corkscrew must be looking fairly subdued. (I will admit to loosing a fair few to airport security in my time. A professional hazard, I think.)
The screwcap is superb for convenience and for keeping wine fresher longer it is true. But I do love the look and feel of a truly stylish corkscrew! Not only that, it was an easy gift for a wine drinker. For Christmas, birthdays or just as a Thank You! We have a simply beautiful and sleek one at home that was given as a very thoughtful gift a few years ago. We have used it just a couple of times it is, however, treasured.
If you are wanting more inspiration for gifts for the wine lovers in your life, why not the Kelvin wine monitor!
A bit of history … worms and all
Although the first users of the corkscrew are not known, according to Wikipedia the first may have been derived from the gun worm used to clean out muskets. Of course, back then it was part of the Butler’s job to open the wine and hence a type of opener called the Butler’s friend was patented by a Carl Wienke.
This is still a very popular model that fits into the pocket discreetly. It would be hard to imagine millions of Sommelier trying to fit some of the other types of corkscrews in their pockets without personal damage or ridicule…. Anyway, the screw part of the corkscrew is still called a ‘worm’ and this type of opener is now known as the Waiter’s friend.
Some of my favourites include the rabbit (the Original Rabbit), the party girl (Alessi Anna G) and the fish (Lazy Fish). These are available for under £35 | AU$100 .
Or try this sleek number for someone special at £100 | $200+ (Laguiole forge).
If designer ware is really your thing, then I noticed Harrods sell these Roberto Cavalli Home Snake openers (£360).
I am tempted this year to get some friends one of these wonderful wine accoutrements before they are regulated to collectors items. Perhaps I just need to bite the bullet … um .. cork… and then ensure that every visit that I take at least one wine that will require its use.
(These corkscrews are widely available but try your local department stores or on-line stores.)
This article was first published in December 2009.