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With so many ways to open a bottle of wine, finding the right wine opener depends on your personal preferences, tastes and capabilities. “I look for functionality, style and price,” says Tekla Israelson, certified sommelier and New York sales manager for Washington, D.C.’s Republic Restoratives Distillery. “I want something straightforward that is easy to use [and] won't take up a lot of space—but still looks good on my bar cart.”
According to Israelson, there are a few industry standard options to consider: the waiter’s friend (the classic manual key used in restaurants), electric openers and winged corkscrews—with levers and air pump systems also popular among home wine drinkers. Her personal favorite is the waiter’s friend style: “[They] make it easier to pull the cork out of the bottle.” Although Israelson believes that a bottle of wine doesn’t need to be expensive to be good, she does recommend investing in a quality opening tool.
Here are some of the best wine openers on the market across a variety of styles.
Best Overall: Oster Silver Electric Wine Opener
Takes up minimal counter space
Less durable than other options
Warranty only lasts one year
Small learning curve at first
Oster’s cordless electric opener is among the top-rated of its kind. Its simple, straightforward design, compact charging base, and approachable price point make it ideal for those who want to get the job done quickly, with no frills.
This opener comes with a foil cutter for easy removal and a clean, blank canvas for easy opening. Like most electric wine openers, all you do is place the device on top of the cork, switch it on and let the bottle opener do the work for you. With just a single charge (that lasts six to eight hours), you can open up to 30 bottles—appropriate for large gatherings and parties.
What’s included: Electric wine bottle opener, foil cutter, charging base, power adapter, user manual
Best Electric: Rabbit Automatic Electric Corkscrew
Very simple and effortless to use
Uses standard USB charger
Small and compact
On the pricier side
Can break easily
May be difficult to apply correct pressure at first
If you’d like to minimize physical effort (and do so stylishly), Rabbit’s popular electric corkscrew is your best bet. Charge it up before use—each full charge is good for around 30 corks—and, when you’re ready to drink your bottle of choice, open up the top to reveal the built-in cutter and remove the foil cap. Then, place the device atop the bottle’s neck and bring it down onto the cork until it automatically begins to work its magic: pulling out the cork and ejecting it gently once finished.
This electric corkscrew is the first of its kind and is compatible with all cork types. Perfect for novices, the electric variety is one of the easiest options for home use, notes Israelson.
What’s Included: Electric wine bottle opener, built-in foil cutter, USB charging cord
Related: The Best Electric Wine Openers
Best Wine Key: Le Creuset Waiter's Friend Corkscrew
Small and portable
Simple and easy to use
Pricier than similar styles
Foil cutter can come loose
Efficient, budget-friendly and sleek, this classic wine key is another great all-rounder. Made by the trusted French cookware brand Le Creuset, the Waiter’s Friend corkscrew appeals to the service industry and home drinkers alike with its two-step design and grooved screw. This way, it’s intended to maximize movement through cork as smoothly and as vertically as possible. The metal corkscrew is also BPA-free.
Most waiter’s friend-style corkscrews are extremely versatile and work well for any type of cork. Plus, they can easily live in a pocket or bag—another reason Israelson highly recommends this option.
What’s Included: Two-step wine key
Best Preserver: Coravin Model Two Wine Preservation System
Allows you to have just a glass or two at a time
Easy to store and carry
Product and refills are expensive
Works only on natural cork
Needle is easy to break
A leader in wine preservation, the Coravin system uses a needle and inert gas (argon), allowing users to access wine without actually opening the bottle. This is essential because cork is a self-healing material and will close back up again after the needle is removed.
“It gives the flexibility of tasting a bottle without being forced to open the whole thing,” says Beth Martini, a certified sommelier and captain at Entente in Chicago. Coravin systems are typically used for reserve wines as a measure against loss and oxidation, and Model Two is a unanimously popular choice across the industry.
For the home user, Rebecca Sinn, sommelier at Dean & DeLuca at the Ritz Carlton Waikiki, advises: “Try to keep it in a cool and dry place in its original case, just like storing a bottle of wine.” Because Model Two is made of stainless steel and fiberglass nylon, doing this will help prevent rusting, she explains. Martini recommends avoiding any forcing of the needle into the cork and making sure to puncture in different places, allowing the cork to self-heal as much as possible.
What’s Included: Model Two Wine Preserver, two Coravin capsules (each capsule allows you to pour up to 15 5-ounce glasses of wine)
Best Winged: OXO Steel Winged Corkscrew
Simple and comfortable to use
Works with any type of cork
Smooth, ergonomic design
Plastic body is less durable than all-metal options
Foil cutter quality is inconsistent
Winged corkscrews are another way to remove a cork with minimal physical effort, hallmarked by a set of levers on either side of the worm. This style offers several advantages, according to Erik Delanoy, a service industry veteran who currently tends bar at Classic Car Club Manhattan.
“It removes a lot of the guesswork: It guarantees that the corkscrew will be inserted into the center of the cork at the correct angle parallel to the bottle, and the corkscrew itself is usually more of a blade style, which reduces chances of breaking a cork that might be dried out," he explains.
This style does require a bit of work, but not nearly as much as the waiter’s friend, for instance, because the wings do most of the labor when pulling the cork out. Delanoy elaborates: “It’s great for stubborn corks or, in general, for those who don’t necessarily have a lot of arm strength." He adds that this OXO model’s built-in cutter, which makes for a clean line on the foil, is a welcome bonus.
What’s Included: Winged corkscrew, removable foil cutter
Related: The Best Wine Aerators
Best Lever: OXO SteeL Vertical Lever Corkscrew
Nearly effortless to use
Compact and easy to store
Pricier than other options
Must be washed by hand
Foil cutter is not as effective as other options
With just two simple motions, this lever corkscrew lets you quickly open your wine without forcing or pulling. The compact design won’t take up valuable real estate on your kitchen counter, and the removable foil cutter stored inside the device means this one tool does everything you need.
Even the most stubborn corks pop out effortlessly with its streamlined design: Just slide the nonstick screw into a natural or synthetic cork, then pump the lever down and back up to remove the cork in seconds. Meanwhile, the ergonomically designed handle prevents your grip from slipping.
This OXO model comes with an extra screw in case of wear and tear, but the quality is high enough that you shouldn’t need it for a while.
What’s Included: Corkscrew, removable foil cutter, extra nonstick screw
Best Splurge: Turquoise Laguiole En Aubrac Waiters Corkscrew Wine Opener
Timeless and elegant design
Simple and classic mechanism
Durable and high-quality
Must be cleaned and maintained properly
This beautifully designed classic corkscrew isn’t just a great way to open wine in style—it’s also a stunning conversation piece to elevate your dining room décor. You’ll want to prominently display this top-of-the-line wine opener from the iconic French artisan knife brand Laguiole, founded in 1829.
“The brand matters because quality matters, and Laguiole wine openers are outstanding and durable,” says Chad Arnold, manager of Paul Marcus Wines in Oakland, California. Sure, it’s pricey, but Arnold adds, “I’m happy to pay for a quality product, and a quality wine opener is one that will get me through Covid-19 and Covid-20—as well as lots of anniversaries, graduations and Tuesday afternoons.”
Featuring an eye-catching turquoise stone handle and durable Sandvik stainless steel, this masterpiece is handmade by a single master cutler from start to finish; it's adorned with the signature accents of the individual craftsman. The easy-to-use waiter’s corkscrew comes in an attractive storage box that makes it the perfect gift for the serious oenophile in your life.
What’s Included: Corkscrew, storage box
Best Design: Lund London Skittle Waiters Friend
Simple and no-frills
Comes in several attractive color combinations
High-quality and inexpensive
Requires some manual effort
There can be a learning curve if you’re new to the waiter’s friend style
This sleek and contemporary corkscrew, in the classic waiter’s friend style, is about as chic as a wine opener can be. Whether you display it on your home bar or bring it with you to festive occasions, it’s sure to be a fun conversation piece. It comes in eco-friendly, recycled and recyclable packaging. It’s also completely gimmick-free; there’s no need to charge it or learn any special tricks.
As a former waiter and bartender, food and wine writer Carrie Honaker loves the simplicity of its classic design. "It's compact, can be slid into your pocket for ultimate portability and is easy to use," she explains.
It comes in three different eye-catching color combinations, including indigo and white, sky blue and light grey, and pink and mint, so you can perfectly coordinate it with your decor. This beautiful corkscrew is made from high-quality materials, so it will last as long as its timeless aesthetic.
What’s Included: Waiter’s friend corkscrew
For its simplicity, compact design and durability, the classic waiter’s style corkscrew just can’t be beat. For a stylish take on this industry favorite, go with the colorful and fun Lund London Skittle Waiters Friend (view at Trouva). If you prefer the effortless ease of an electric wine opener, the Rabbit Automatic Electric Corkscrew (view at Amazon) is your best bet—it does virtually all the work for you.
Are electric wine openers easier to use?
For those with dexterity or strength issues, electric wine openers are an ideal choice because they require minimal or no physical exertion. They're also useful if you need to open many bottles in a short period of time (during a party, for instance). If you are not experienced with manual corkscrews, electric wine openers can be a great choice, but some oenophiles prefer manual styles—especially the classic waiter’s friend—because they are simple, portable, inexpensive, and quick and easy to use once you get the hang of the technique.
How do you clean and care for wine openers?
Each wine opener will have a set of care instructions unique to its individual specifications. In general, electric corkscrews should be wiped clean with a damp cloth and should never be submerged in water! Manual corkscrews can be cleaned in the dishwasher if they are more durable, or washed by hand and immediately dried if they are made from more delicate, fine materials. If your corkscrew includes a foil cutter, the dishwasher may dull the blade over time.
How long do wine openers last?
Simple waiter’s friend and winged corkscrews tend to be the most durable because they have a simple design and are typically made from sturdy materials. Electric wine openers are more susceptible to wear and tear and often lose their ability to fully charge over time. Most electric models will need to be replaced within one to three years. Of course, this all depends on how frequently you're using your wine opener.
Related: The Best Bar Carts
What to Look For
Ease of Use
If you are a seasoned wine professional who opens bottles all the time, you may want to choose a simple style like the waiter’s friend or a winged corkscrew. However, if you find these manual options difficult to use, choose an electric model or a lever-style corkscrew that automates most of the work. These are particularly easy to use for anyone with mobility, dexterity or strength issues.
Think about whether you need any special features with your wine opener, like a built-in or removable foil cutter or an extra screw for long-term use. If you choose an electric wine opener, you’ll want to consider whether you prefer a battery-operated model or one with a charger that plugs into the wall.
If you are choosing a wine opener for frequent use, choose one that can withstand plenty of wear and tear over time. If you are an occasional wine drinker, this may be a lower priority than other considerations, such as ease of use.
If you have limited space or want a wine opener you can travel with, choose a smaller option. But if you have plenty of room on the kitchen counter or in your home bar setup, feel free to choose a larger model, especially one with an attractive design that you will want to display proudly.
If aesthetic appeal is a priority, choose a wine opener you can proudly display on your home bar. It's a simple way to add an elegant accent to your decor, combining functionality with style. If you’re looking for something to take with you on the go, you’ll want a smaller, simpler, inexpensive design—especially because you’re more likely to leave it behind somewhere.
Why Trust Liquor.com?
As a half-French person and longtime beverage writer, wine is basically second nature to Céline Bossart. Throughout her adult life, she has opened (and sabered) too many wine bottles to count, and not just for the sport of it.
Nikki Goddard, who updated this piece, is a wine writer with 14 years of industry experience, as well as CSW and WSET Diploma certification. She is passionate about taking the intimidation out of wine education and has taught classes for WSET levels 2 and 3. In 2019, Nikki was named a Top Young Wine Writer by Vinous Media.
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