Snooth Blog

Snooth User: ahall

Wine Openers

Original post by ahall, Jan 24, 2008.

You just came home from a long day at work. The kids are fast asleep. Now it’s time for to relax with a nice glass of wine, like Wolf Blass Cabernet Sauvignon Black Label . You go to the kitchen drawer, extract your wine opener and raise it to the bottle. After you attempt to open the wine, the unthinkable happens… the cork breaks!

How many times has this happened to you? Again, you are screaming at the wine opener, as you place it back into the bottle for a second attempt. You are now at a crossroads: pray you can get that sucker out in one piece or start thinking of grand excuses why the wine has cork pieces swimming in it. How embarrassing…

Waiters and waitresses make it seem so easy - it must be since they practice so much. Well, I have been drinking and opening wine for roughly 10 years now, and I still can’t seem to stop breaking a few corks every now and then. Thus, I have decided my troubles are the fault of my wine opener. I have several in my kitchen, but I still haven’t found one that I can truly depend on. I’ve got the $1 liquor store plastic wonder, the cheap wing corkscrew opener ($5-$7), the Waiter’s corkscrew ($5-$10), and the two-prong corkscrew ($10-$12 - though quite helpful in extracting already broken corks but are quite difficult to use). The only one not in my collection is the most expensive opener - the Rabbit ($50+). My fear is that if I spend a lot on an expensive wine opener, it will fail me just the same as the others and I’ll just be out more money. So, what’s the best opener? Do I pay for what I get, or is there a compromise?

I have heard two sides of this story. The first side claims that all wine openers are the same and I need to just slow down and take my time. The second side claims that if you really are a true wine lover, a good opener is imperative no matter what the cost.
So I must know - is The Rabbit the answer to my troubles? What do you fellow Snoothers find works best? If you do have The Rabbit(or openers with similar designs), what are the positives and negatives. I’d love to solve my wine opening dilemma before it’s time to open the next bottle.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 16, 2012.

I concur about manipulating the rabbit.  Doesn't work for me.

LingProf, sure it's the bottle opener your women friends are raving about? ;-) Seriously, it might not take strength to pull the cork, but you have to suspend the bottle and squeeze the thing inward at the same time.  I get that women multitask better, but bigger hands would help.

I own one or more of the following:  PullTaps (my fave, but not the foil cutter, very ineffective), waiter's friend (two, one with a foil cutter that is a loop with cutting wheels almost like a can opener, best foil cutter ever), cork puller (aka Ah-So, best for older corks), plain wood handled corkscrew (t-shaped, no idea how I got it), and one of those winged things that some folks poo-poo.  I have that last because my parents gave it to me, mostly because it's what they use at home.  My main beef with them is they are usually badly made so the worm doesn't go in right and messes up the cork on occasion and they break easily.  I don't have a problem with whether they look cool or not, I just hate when a wing breaks, which has happened to me many times.

I don't own a rabbit or a corkpuller of the type that just has a long worm in a plastic sleeve-like deal.  I'd get the latter, but can't justify the rabbit when I find them hard to use and they take up so much space.

One thing I like about the PullTaps is that it's small in a pocket so I can take it with me almost anywhere except the airport. It's made in Spain with an aircraft aluminum body and, at a restaurant supply place, about $6-7 tops.  Really well made.  I was going to get a fancy Laguiole until I got this and I just can't imagine anything of this sort working better, so I hate to spend the money.  The Lag is very showy and if I was a somm at 11 Madison, I might feel obliged, but almost everybody I see in the business is going to the PullTaps if left to choose.  I think the hinged movement will make it easier to pull the cork than other methods do, and it's such a cheap, handy thing to have that you ought to have one for BYOBs and picnics anyway. 

OT, did you mean this:


Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 16, 2012.

Just get a big enough shoe, Emark.

Reply by GregT, Aug 16, 2012.

Ling - I don't lose any self respect from using a Rabbit. It's a great opener IMO. Only problem is that while it's no strain whatsoever for me, some women can find it difficult to push the lever over. Who knew? I thought it was the easiest thing in the world and my wife had trouble with it. Doesn't matter any more because somehow I jammed the lever all the way over and can't get it back so the Rabbit is dead.

But when I was opening a few dozen wines in a few hours and was using the Rabbit, I  was going to be concerned if some guy who opens a few bottles a month thinks I"m not as cool as he is?  Do I care? 


So don't worry about what someone else might think. Use whatever works for you.

The butterfly openers are horrible - if you can't operate a Rabbit, you can't operate one of those without risking knocking over the bottle. There used to be a kind of thing where you twisted the top over and over and it simply sucked up the cork - I think those are actually the easiest to use for everyone but I rarely see them any more.  The Ah-so is nice but if your cork is stuck, it can break off.

Reply by EMark, Aug 16, 2012.

I used to have one of those "twist the top" corkscrews, and I agree that they are great.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 17, 2012.

No doubt for speed over the course of many bottles the Rabbit works great.  My buddy always gets it out for big wine tasting parties.  Only time I think about having one.

Reply by napagirl68, Aug 17, 2012.

I miss my Rabbit.  I finally broke it.. yep, but I have uncorked a lot of wine!  I also bought the slightly cheaper version of the rabbit.  It was ~$15 on clearance at a discount department store.  It was marked down because the "kit" was missing the drip collar.  It worked great, opened wine quickly- mere seconds, with ease.  I will look for another because it was so fast and worked very well.  The issue, I think, with traditional corkscrews is misalignment.  The design of the rabbit greatly aids in proper alignment.

I almost started a thread about ease of opening wine.. meaning, I find myself, sometimes, choosing to open a wine in my collection because it has a screw top!  I am either lazy or impatient (probably impatient).  But I have noticed that occurring more and more of late.  This thread has reminded me to look for another rabbit.  I hate "screwing" around with corks!

Reply by EMark, Aug 17, 2012.

On the same page with you NG on the ease of screwcaps.  In that regard they are the absolute best.

Reply by outthere, Aug 17, 2012.

Link fail. I meant to post this one.

Reply by JonDerry, Aug 17, 2012.

What kind of double mags are we talking about Mark?


I've never opened a 3L myself so I'll be interested to hear how it goes...have always preferred ah so's for 750's and the occasional mag.

Reply by napagirl68, Aug 17, 2012.

EMark... we opened a jeroboam (double magnum) a few years back.. It was quite hilarious.  No, a normal corkscrew doesn't work too well on a cork that is larger than normal.  We had the drill out, the ice pick, etc.  We picked it out enough and grabbed the terminal end with the corkscrew to prevent cork in the wine.  Took three of us about 20minutes!  LOL!

Most sites will say that large formats are ok with normal pulls.. because the corks are the same length.  True for magnums, maybe true for jeroboams, but did not seem so for the one I had. You cannot use those corkscrews that rely upon sitting on the bottle top for placement.  Use a typical waiter's corkscrew (we didn't have one) and go sloooww... tease it out.

Reply by GregT, Aug 17, 2012.

NG - I came home from a weekend away and saw that my toolbox was strewn across the floor. 

"WTF!" I thought to myself.

But of course I didn't want to start a fight or anything, so nothing was said. I just picked everything up and put it back.

A few days later I'm talking to my wife.  There was an open bottle in the fridge but she said it had been there for a few days and wasn't holding up. She'd opened it while I was gone.  Not her first choice but she couldn't open the one she wanted.  However, now that I was home, maybe I could help and we'd drink that one?

Suddenly the lights went on. It was screw-capped.

"Did you try opening it with pliers or something?" I asked innocently.

"Oh yes!" she replied.  "I tried everything, finally those little, what are those things called that hold on to something and you can kind of lock them?"

"Vise grips?" I ventured.

"Yes!  I tried those too. But all I did was scratch up the bottle.  See?  Here it is!" she explained as she showed me a bottle on which the screw cap was scratched and beaten to hell.

It would have been an appropriate time for a lecture on how tools are to be put back where they were found, and that comes directly from my great grandfather through successive generations, but I was so touched by the fact that opening a screw cap was such a challenge, I didn't have the heart.


Reply by napagirl68, Aug 17, 2012.

Prima Donna.

Great work of fiction, tho! 

Reply by EMark, Aug 18, 2012.

Jon, I assume your question is about the wine in the double mags.  One is Montevina 1993 Amador County Zinfandel (procured in 1996), and the other is Byron 1991 Santa Barbara County Reserve Pinot Noir (procured in 2001).  As I said, I bought these at charity auctions and, getting into the spirit of the events, I probably paid too much for them.  Provenance prior to purchace is unknown.  One assumes that donors who want to maintain their image take care of them.  Probably, more of a hope than an assumption, that may or may not be true.  The event the we are planning will have guests that enjoy wine, but are not particularly impressed by anything.  So, opening the big bottle will add to the festiveness.  Another neat thing that will add to the festiveness is the fact that both of these wines are signed by the winemaker.

OT/NG, ordering wine with a screwcap can still be fun in a restaurant.  About 6 months ago I ordered one, and the waitress could not open it--either she did not have the strength or hand was slippery.  I suspect the latter because I asked her to give it to me, and I twisted it off.  Believe me, I am no brute.

I have told this story, here, before, but about 10-12 years ago I ordered a NZ Sauvignon Blanc in a restaurant and, after the waiter presented it, he whipped out his corkscrew, opened up the knife and tried to cut through what he assumed was the capsule.  It did not work.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 22, 2012.

GregT, my wife couldn't open the screw top the other night (bottle of Sean Minor Pinot Noir--not really worth the trouble) and was trying to cut the bottom of it like a foil with a kitchen knife in front of our kids, including the one who has just healed from her own knife injury.  So much for the simplicity of the Stelvin.  Of course, my wife and all her relatives save one are absolutely terrifyingly incompetent when it comes to tools, so....

Reply by Bordoo, Aug 22, 2012.

The 'waiter's friend' is a good everyday corkscrew that has the advantage of fitting easily in a pocket.  At their price, it doesn't hurt to pick up an Ah So or three for the drawer.

I found the Screwpull to be a very efficient and easy to use corkscrew, mine lasted about 5 years (not very long in my opinion) but now that I see them over $20 and I have several other corkscrews, I can't buy another.  It probably has been my favorite.

I have a wing corkscrew that has worked adequately for some 50  years or so even though it does not have an open screw.

Finally, buy a few of those dollar screws that have the plastic cap/shield that is used as a T handle.  They are a pain in the butt to use, but I keep one in the glove box, bike toolkit and garage.  You never know when a bottle will come your way.


Reply by Bettie Infante, Oct 4, 2012.

The Rabbit is your answer!

I have never broken a cork with this opener and it's easy to manipulate.

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