Who doesn’t love a fine bottle of wine? There’s just something about a nice bottle of bubbly or a fine merlot that can put the cap—or cork—on a perfect day, or serve as the final ingredient to a romantic evening for two.
After all, wine selection is nothing to turn your nose up at; if you’ve ever had a particularly bad, you know just how truly trenchant and wretched something as naturally-beautiful as wine can be when cultivated badly or stored incorrectly.
And then, even after you’ve made sure to follow the basics of a good selection, you still have the age-old question before you—red or white?
What vintage is for you? Which regions do you prefer?
Are you of the opinion that Napa is on the rise or that (le gasp!) France might just be on the decline? Do you prefer established varieties, or new and novel names?
But for as important as all those questions are, there’s one that might just take precedent—
Whatever type or vintage you choose, how are you getting that bottle open?
That wine doesn’t do anyone any good trapped beneath the cork, and for as many creative ways as there are to MacGyver a bottle open—and trust us, there are quite a few interesting methods out there.
Chances are, whether you’re saving that pinot noir or zinfandel for a business brunch or a big date, you’re not going to want to stand their walloping the bottom of the bottle with your show or taking a coat hanger to the cork.
Somehow, that image might just clash with the impression you’re trying to make.
As such, you’re going to want to look for a proper wine opener, but which one’s best for you? Just as there are a variety of different methods for opening that bottle through less conventional means—hammers and nails and coat hangers, oh my!—there are a slew of different options for opening that bottle “properly.”
Here are just a few of the top rated wine openers.
These types of corkscrews are named for the dual clamps that stick up and are characteristic of this design. These can take a bit of getting used to, but once you get the knack of it, chances are you’ll find this method highly effective.
To uncork the bottle, simply clamp the two ends on either side of the bottle—after removing the seal—press down with the top, until that screw starts to enter the bottle, and then, keeping the clamps firmly in pace, pull back on that top part.
If done correctly, the top portion, with the mounted screw, should pull the cork out with a slight, satisfying pop.
Metrokane 6015 Rabbit 6-Piece Kit
This model is a near-textbook example of the rabbit design. It comes standard with all the usual accoutrements you can expect from the rabbit design—a foil cutter, a drip-stop ring, a bottle sealer, a wax remover, and of course, the rabbit-style opener itself, here given a nice silver finish.
All told, cork removal should take little more than three seconds. Made from tough polycarbonate and reinforced nylon, this unit is built to last, and, like most rabbit units, comes in a nice carrying case.
For something a bit more high tech, an electric type of wine opener might be just the thing. These, as you might expect, can prove a bit more costly, but that extra cost may be well worth it of you wish to eschew the process of opening a bottle with muscle power.
Still, there are some less expensive starter options available, such as…
Oster FPSTBW8207-S Electric
This outing by Oster is a nice, inexpensive starter option for someone looking to acquire a starter electric wine opener. As a cordless electric bottle opener, this unit is highly portable and, as with the rabbit style described above, can remove a cork in just seconds.
What’s more, this unit is highly durable, and reusable.
One thing you always want to be aware of when you buy an electric model as opposed to either of the other options described here is to take into account how much power is left, or how many bottles the unit can open on a single charge.
Oster’s model here can open 30 in a single charge, which is a reasonably respectable number for a unit of this price. It comes with all the usual trimmings, from a foil cutter for removing seals with ease to a comfortable, soft-grip handle.
One thing you always want to look for in an electric opener is a quality charging base. After all, an electric wine opener’s greatest strength, its non-strenuous, electrically-charged nature, can also prove its greatest weakness. It’s a pretty low feeling to have the perfect bottle at hand and then realize your electric opener is out of power.
Thankfully, these units comes with a charger that’s highly portable and easy to use, so you can always charge this device and keep it at the ready for when guests come over, or when you feel like taking your beverage on the road. Take a look at the very positive customer reviews on Amazon.
Precision Kitchenware – Luxury Corkscrew and Wine Stopper Set – PK002
Last but not least, we have the handy-dandy, always-reliable, tried-and-true corkscrew. This is the “classic” type of wine bottle opener. If you have absolutely no first-hand experience with this delectable drink yourself, chances are, this is the kind of wine bottle opener that’s going to come to mind when you hear the term.
This is the oldest of the three models discussed here and, as a result, has both the most traditional and the most varied designs.
On the one hand, there’s a general flow and structure to these devices—the corkscrew is in the middle, with the screw on top, and after placing that middle squarely over the “cork,” you “screw” downward, turning that screw until it penetrates the cork before pulling back up again to extract it to open the bottle.
From all that, you can probably guess how this variant got its name, and also why it has such a traditional design, and likewise, why there are so many variations on that design.
On the one hand, this is the simplest, and some would say best type of wine bottle opener we’ve discussed thus far—just place the top over the cork, and screw.
On the other hand, that simplistic method leaves a lot of areas to experiment with and, just as importantly, leaves a lot of options open in terms of form, with the function so locked in. You can find everything from plastic to wooden to shiny metal corkscrews, which is the model listed here.
Made by Precision Kitchenware, this is pretty much your standard corkscrew. It’s chrome, heavy duty, built to last, and works just as described above, so it really is something you can just pick up and use, without a set of directions or previous understanding of its inner workings.
This model also does a great job of locking the top shut while you cork and screw the bottle, thus preventing spillage.
The downside to this kind of wine bottle opener should be apparent—with all that screwing, it’s definitely the one that involves the most “work,” or physical exertion.
While this shouldn’t pose too much of a problem, and the lower prices for these models can be attractive, if you find yourself perennially lacking the strength necessary to screw the top off those darned peanut butter or jam jars, you may want to look into one of the other options above.
Nevertheless, this is still a great option for first-timers and old pros alike and judging from the comments on customer reviews at Amazon, the manufacturer is very quick to respond to any questions or problems which is a rare quality these days.
A Good Corking Set
One final question—just how “good” of a set do you need?
Well, quality-wise, you definitely want something that’s going to last, and of course one that’s effective, and while more expensive options can certainly prove more effective sometimes, or offer other perks—as is the case with electric and rabbit sets—usually, an inexpensive bottle opener can get the job done just fine.
Trickier is the question of how good your bottle opener must be “stylistically.” Does it need to be absolutely beautiful?
While wine aficionados are infamous for strictly judging just about everything there is to judge, unless you’re holding an especially-savvy and high-class party, there’s no need to try and impress anyone with an incredibly-stylish wine bottle opener.
That being said, you do want to be sure that it’s always clean—after all, you’re using that to open the bottle you’re all going to drink from, and anyway, nobody wants to look at a smudgy or rusting or absolutely filthy hunk of metal while they sip a fine Napa.
Just be sure to wash and, if it’s especially fine silver, maybe occasionally polish your corkscrew, and you’ll be fine.
All in all, buying a better wine bottle opener is an easy, classy, and affordable way to pop the cork and get your next soiree started with style!
First published September 24th, 2014. Last updated March 5th, 2017
About Lynne Jaques
Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!