How many grad students does it take to break a corkscrew?
December 4, 2012 11:08 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend a durable and easy-to-use corkscrew, preferably under around $15 and available via Amazon Prime.

I've bought and broken two corkscrews from CVS in the space of two months (!!). Both of them have been the only one that my local CVS sells - the Farberware Classic Chrome-Winged Corkscrew. I host a small group weekly at my apartment, and we have a couple of bottles of wine per time, so I need a corkscrew that has a lifespan of more than about 10 bottles, which sounds perfectly reasonable to me but apparently excludes the brand that I have already tried. I need this item by next Monday evening, I don't have a car, and I do have Amazon Prime, so something Prime-available would be hugely preferable to me if possible, although I could potentially trek somewhere in Boston to buy one if it is reasonably easy to get to on the T. I'm a grad student and don't have all that much money to budget for corkscrews, so I'd really like to keep it between $10-$15 if possible, although I might potentially be willing to pay more if it would improve my options especially in terms of durability.

I have seen this question, but since the particulars of what I need differ, I thought I'd ask my question specifically. From a bit of online research, I have been thinking of this one, but I'd love to know if any of you all can make any recommendations from personal experience!
posted by UniversityNomad to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The one you like is the one I was coming to recommend. I've had mine for about 5 years, bottle of wine a week or so, no issues.

I love mine, and definitely recommend a "wine key" over the "weird armed corkscrew thinger".
posted by dotgirl at 11:13 AM on December 4, 2012

Pedrini waiter's corkscrews are my go-to. I have two of them that have been with me for probably at least ten years with no problems, opening lots of wine. For example,
posted by primethyme at 11:14 AM on December 4, 2012

The double-hinged waiter's friend is, in general, a far superior design to the winged corkscrew (although the price on this particular one leaves me unsure as to quality). Something like the item in the link was in the pocket of every waiter, caterer, or bartender I've ever worked with.
posted by gauche at 11:18 AM on December 4, 2012

I have a Metrokane Vertical Houdini picked up on sale a while back at and love it. So much easier than an old fashioned corkscrew. Out of your price range on Amazon at the moment, but after using one for a couple years now, I'd say it's definitely worth the extra expense.
posted by reptile at 11:21 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

A "waiter's friend"-style corkscrew should hold up a lot better than the winged variety, although there's a wee bit of a knack to it. I like the double-hinged variant; the one I got from Trader Joe's has been fine for me, and I think it cost $2 or thereabouts.

Amazon appears to have a problem with Chinese knockoff Pulltaps, so I'd tread carefully there; the Pedrini linked by primethyme doesn't appear to suffer from cheap imitations.
posted by holgate at 11:21 AM on December 4, 2012

That said, I see the Amazon reviews for the one I linked are terrible, so either I have good luck or the product sold on amazon's different than the one I got on woot.
posted by reptile at 11:22 AM on December 4, 2012

Came in to recommend the double-hinged waiter's friend recommended by gauche. I've had the same one for 20 years now, it works just as well as the day I bought it and I can open any bottle quickly and easily. Buy a couple in case you lose one, they're cheap enough.

There's a Prime option here, though it's slightly different from the one pictured.
posted by bondcliff at 11:25 AM on December 4, 2012

All of my friends who are servers consider Pulltap to be the gold standard -- $10 and Prime ready.
posted by hukka at 11:39 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, a waiter's key! It's been over a decade since I last waited tables, and mine is still going strong. They require a tiny bit of skill perhaps, but it only takes a minute to learn.
posted by susanvance at 11:39 AM on December 4, 2012

This one is pricey but I've had it forever. I need it though, because I suck at opening using that waiter key type implement, and this is durable plus stupid easy to use. If you don't have any issues with using the waiter key type, might as well go with that.
posted by mrs. taters at 11:52 AM on December 4, 2012

This is similar to the one that I have. All metal and has survived many a trip off the counter and such.
posted by sperose at 11:56 AM on December 4, 2012

I have a Trudeau one that looks exactly like this Screwpull Pocket Corkscrew, and it is MAGIC. I literally call it "The Jesus Corkscrew". Corks glide out with basically no effort. With it, I could (ahem, and have) successfully uncork bottles while stumbling-drunk on the finest $8 plonk my cellar has to offer. Real cork, rubber cork... it doesn't matter. It is a joy to open a bottle of wine with that thing. I've used the butterfly-wing type corkscrews, and the waiter's-key type corkscrews, and this blows them out of the water.

It's pricier than you wanted, but even on my grad-student-like salary I would replace mine in an instant if I ever broke it (which, due to how it works, I can't imagine doing unless I ran it over with a car or something). I can't seem to find the Trudeau one online, so maybe they've discontinued it, or I'm remembering wrong and it's actually by Screwpull. The Screwpull one is probably just as good. I especially like it because the top spinny arm covers the screw part when the thing is not in use, which both makes it compact, and prevents accidental jabbing when I'm rummaging around in a drawer.

Seriously, I love this thing.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 12:59 PM on December 4, 2012

The best one I have ever used was from a waiter's style pull from the bin at the Trader Joe's wine store (similar to what gauche is recommending). Arguably the best six dollar kitchen gadget I've ever bought. The winged ones are bad.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 1:07 PM on December 4, 2012

(PS: I've had it for 10 years now and it's still going strong.)
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 1:07 PM on December 4, 2012

The double-hinged Pulltap that gauche and hukka are recommending is absolutely the best non-gimmick no-nonsense corkscrew there is. I rarely see waitstaff using anything else, I have several in my possession, and that's the model we use here at work (in the wine industry). Highly recommended.
posted by komara at 1:12 PM on December 4, 2012

Kikkerland did a really good one that I've had for a while now. It's rock solid, don't listen to the doubters.

It's also one of my favorite things, ever.

It also resembles a fish.
posted by Chutzler at 1:49 PM on December 4, 2012

For $24 you can get the classic Screwpull; it's over your budget but is hands down the best cork puller and will last many years. The patent expired a year or two back, I'm surprised not to find a cheap knockoff on Amazon.

Another option for under $8 is this two tine cork puller. They are more awkward to use but are the only thing that will work if the cork is very wet or broken. This type of pullers are very common and cheap; just be sure the two tines aren't the same length.

Personally I avoid the waiter-style corkscrew, I've never gotten the hang of getting it to work right.
posted by Nelson at 1:53 PM on December 4, 2012

Was going to recommend the Houdini, but reptile beat me to it. Got one of these for an older friend with arthritis, and she finds it very easy to use, where she couldn't use the waiter-type.

If you have a local wine shop, they may have recommendations as well. The Corkette is a different approach altogether (you stab it through the cork, and then squeeze to pump, you force air into the bottle which ejects the cork.) People seem to love 'em or hate 'em. They seem to be tricky to find, though.
posted by xedrik at 2:21 PM on December 4, 2012

We have the screwpull and really like it. The cutting knife is sharp and curved nicely, and the tool overall has a really meaningful heft to it. You feel like you're doing Serious Business when you use it, like it's a real tool.

It's a little stiff at first and takes a bit to get into a comfortable state but we like it a lot and bought it in 2009, so we've had time for second thoughts. There were a lot of bottles of wine between today and September 8, 2009. (Amazon apparently knows a surprising amount of minutiae about the fleeting needs of my life.)
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:15 PM on December 4, 2012

I should note that ours is the waiter's corkscrew, not the winged variety, which I find take more effort and to be less satisfying in general.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:17 PM on December 4, 2012

My husband is a catering bartender and swears by the Pulltap's Wine Tool (like this one, but that's a bad price). He buys half a dozen of them at a time at Trader Joe's (roughly $3-$4, I think) so he has extras to take to work — there's always somebody, either a newbie or an old hand, who's shown up to work without a wine tool, so he likes to have extras on hand to sell them for $5. "Yes, it would cost less at TJ's. But you didn't buy it there so now you're paying Pirate's don't be an unprofessional, irresponsible knucklehead surcharge. Unless you want to go open that bottle with your teeth…"
posted by Lexica at 7:03 PM on December 4, 2012

I am a wine nerd. I am also a wine buyer and sommelier who has to pull a lot of corks. I have two that I rely on. One is a scwag gifted Pulltex double hinged waiter's corksrew as mentioned above and the other is a $20 Ah-so style cork puller. I much prefer the Ah-so and I am super fast with it. I recommend it to all who ask.

I do not like and will not use the Screwpull. Sorry - I just don't like it.
posted by FlamingBore at 7:35 PM on December 4, 2012

Nthing the recommendation for a double-hinged Pulltaps (waiter's) corkscrew. They sell them at Trader Joes for less than $5 in the wine section. They're branded TJ's (but are actually made by Pulltaps). Gets the job done quickly and so efficiently, it makes it a pleasure to uncork a bottle of wine (for more reasons than one!).
posted by therewolf at 11:52 PM on December 4, 2012

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