How to use a corkscrew

How to use a corkscrew to open a bottle of fine wine

Opening a bottle of wine with a flourish is an essential part of the fine wine drinking experience. The wine bottle closures market is therefore a natural extension of the wine industry. The market today has a growing share of alternate closure types like aluminium screw caps, plastic or glass stoppers, mushroom caps, etc. but corks remain the preferred type of closure, especially for premium and high-end wines.

Corks are preferred because they help preserve the characteristics of the wine over time. They help the wine age in the bottle, prevent the entry of oxygen or bacteria into the bottle, and are efficient in preventing spoilage of the bottle contents. In response to market demand, we now have different categories of corks – aside from the traditional ones – such as special corks for sparkling wine, biodegradable corks made from plant-based materials, etc.

We also have at least a dozen different types of corkscrews, from winged to electric. The basic technique is about the same for using any type of corkscrew – screw the metal spiral sufficiently deep into the bottle’s cork and then use it to gently pull out the cork. We look at how to use the three most commonly used corkscrews to help you nail the art of opening a bottle of fine wine. 

Using a simple corkscrew

A simple corkscrew is T-shaped, with a handle attached to the metal spiral or ‘worm’. You may have to flip open the T if it’s a foldable corkscrew. Hold the corkscrew firmly by the handle and place the sharp tip of the spiral against the centre of the cork. Gently start twisting it clockwise into the cork. Keep twisting it inwards until the screw is sufficiently within the cork. Hold the bottle at the neck with your free hand and start pulling the cork with the screw outwards by the handle of the corkscrew. If you face resistance, gently twist and rock the cork from side to side while pulling it out. Once the cork is removed, start pouring!

Using a wine key

The wine key is also known as waiter’s corkscrew and is generally used in most establishments. It is easy to use, compact in size, affordable and multifunctional when it includes a bottle cap opener and a blade.

Use the blade to cut the foil cover from the lip of the bottle and remove the foil. Much like a simple corkscrew, place the tip of the metal screw on the centre of the cork and twist it inwards. Position the small notch lever against the lip of the bottle and use your free hand to hold it in place. Lever the corkscrew handle upwards to pull the cork halfway up and out of the bottle. If needed, move the longer notch lever to the tip of the bottle and continue pulling the cork with the handle until it is completely out of the bottle. Detach the cork from the metal spiral. Start pouring!

Using a winged corkscrew

A wing or winged corkscrew can be used on corks of all sizes and especially on synthetic corks. The handle of the winged corkscrew can also be used as a beer opener. However, it is best avoided on corks for vintage wines or on natural and brittle corks so as not to leave cork crumbs in the wine.

Similar to the use of a wine key, start by cutting the foil from the lip and neck of the bottle. Remove the foil and place the tip of the metal screw on the centre of the cork and start twisting it inwards. As you twist the screw into the cork, the wings will start rising. Continue twisting until the wings have risen all the way. Next, press down on the wings with both hands at once to lift the screw with the cork out of the bottle. If the cork isn’t out completely, grab the bottle with one hand and the corkscrew with the other and gently twist, rock and wiggle the cork to free it. Start pouring!


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