How to Use Corkscrews and Cork Pulls

opening wine bottle

Although wines with screw caps are growing in market share, many classic wines are still stoppered with corks. Fortunately, there are many options in openers that make it easy for just about anyone to open a bottle of wine. Whether you want a simple old fashioned corkscrew where you have to do all of the work or a newer model that practically does it all for you, there's a corkscrew that is perfect for you.


Corkscrews are available ranging from basic to advanced. If you're someone who has trouble with a basic corkscrew, you may enjoy one of the more recent inventions, such as a rabbit style corkscrew. Some cork pulls don't even use a screw at all, but rather rely on other mechanics to get the cork out of the bottle.


The basic corkscrew has a screw hooked perpendicularly to a handle. To use it, you center the screw atop the cork, and screw it in. Then, you use the handle to twist the cork out while you grasp the bottle. These corkscrews are affordable and fairly compact. On the other hand, many people find them difficult to operate, and others find they wind up poking the cork down into the bottle instead of pulling it out.

Winged Corkscrew

classic winged corkscrew
Classic winged corkscrew

This device has a center screw that pushes down through a metal circle into the cork. Once the screw is in place, you press on two wings on either side of the screw, which extracts the cork. Many of these also have a bottle opener in the handle The metal circle allows you to center the screw on the cork. The handle turns just the screw and not the rest of the device, and the wings allow for clean removal. These corkscrews are less portable, but great to have in a drawer at home. They make cork removal relatively easy, and the device is quiet inexpensive. There is some risk of breaking the cork or poking it down in the bottle, but many people do quite well with a winged corkscrew.

Waiter's Friend

The waiter's friend is called this because many waiters in fine dining restaurants use this to open bottles at the table. This highly portable corkscrew resembles a pocket knife, and everything folds up in the handle. Typically, waiter's friends have three attachments - the screw, a small knife for cutting foil around the cork, and a small implement to place on the neck of the bottle as you pull the cork out. These devices are affordable and very portable, which is why the are a great corkscrew for a picnic or dining al fresco. They can be difficult to use for beginners, however.

Rabbit Style

Also known as a screw pull, these corkscrews make opening a bottle foolproof and easy. The screw pull has a Teflon coated replaceable screw situated between two handles used to grip the bottle neck. Once you easily insert the screw by pushing it into the bottle, and then push the lever to pop the cork. It's a simple and quick process that never results in a pushed in cork. These devices are sturdy and easy to use. On the other hand, they are bulky and can be quite expensive compared to other corkscrews.

Electric Corkscrew

If you just don't trust your abiities with a wine bottle - or if you find using a corkscrew difficult due to conditions such as carpal tunnel, then the electric corkscrew just may be the appliance for you. These types of corkscrews are also great for the gadget lover in your life. Electric corkscrews come in a variety of configurations, and they basically do the work for you, first by screwing in the screw automatically, and then making it simple to extract the cork with the push of a button. You can find them battery operated or with rechargable batteries. While these gadgets are fun, they can be a bit expensive.

Other Cork Pulls

Some devices are great for pulling corks, but aren't classified as corkscrews because they lack the screw or worm.

Butler's Friend

Also known as an ah-so, the butler's friend allows you to remove a cork without piercing it. The simple device contains a handle with two flat prongs on either side of it. You insert the prongs on either side of the cork and gently wiggle it down in. Then, you rock the cork out of the bottle. Many people love using the butler's friend because they feel it is a really easy to use device. It is also affordable, and it is difficult to push a cork into the bottle with it if you use it correctly. That being said, there is a technique to using it, but once you figure it out, it may become your favorite way to remove a cork so you can reinsert it later and save yourself from having to use a stopper.

Gas Cork Extractor

These nifty devices utilize a small cannister of pressurized inert gas to pop a cork right out of the bottle. To use, you insert a straight hollow needle through the cork, push the button to release a little gas, and the cork pops right out. These are incredibly easy to use and foolproof. They are a little expensive, and the gas cannisters require regular replacement.

Extracting Corks

If you're a wine drinker, you should realize there are plenty of ways to get corks out of the bottle. Most are easy to use and quite affordable. in fact, if you drink wine for multiple occasions, you may wish to have more than one type of corkscrew in your home. That way, you're always prepared to open a bottle of wine.

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How to Use Corkscrews and Cork Pulls