Opening a bottle of wine should not be a frustrating experience. But, too often, it is. Raise your hand if you’ve ever struggled for far too long to remove a cork? Or if you’ve ever broken the cork? Or if you’ve ever just ended up pushing it further into the bottle? Yeah, I’m guessing you all have your hands up by now.
A great wine opener should be able to remove a cork swiftly and easily, without incident. And so I set out to find the best type of tool for removing a cork from a bottle of wine. I tested six popular styles of wine openers. While some certainly had their merits (which I’ll get into), one type of wine opener emerged as the clear winner. Let’s take a look.
The ratings: Each method received an overall rating, with 1 being my least favorite and 5 being the best. Like the rest of our Kitchn showdowns, this one considered the final results, ease, cleanup, and price. Keep reading — along with the rating, you’ll find more detailed notes.
Wine Opener Type: Electric Wine Opener
Ease of use: 5
Cork removal: 0
Price: 3 (The Oster Electric wine opener we tested is $47.76)
My mom got me the Oster Electric wine opener as an engagement present and I dutifully used it for years — but it never worked well. To use it, you place the opener over the exposed cork (it does come with a foil cutter!), press the down arrow, and apply downward pressure to lower the corkscrew and the up arrow to raise it and remove the cork … in theory.
It works best when you make sure that the corkscrew has gone entirely through the cork, but, even then, I’ve only been able to remove a cork with it 50 percent of the time. When it doesn’t remove the cork, you’re left trying to use it again, and then maybe again, and then maybe again, leaving a mangled cork in its wake.
There are tons of positive Amazon reviews, so I purchased a second one for the sake of this story, but I had the same issues. Maybe I’m just unlucky and received a few duds? Also, I’m sure that there are some electric wine openers out there that work wonderfully. If you have arthritis, this might be an especially smart option for you.
I will say, though, the fact that electric wine openers either have to be charged or loaded with batteries, and the lack of options should it fail, makes me want to find another opener.
Wine Opener Type: Two-Prong Puller
Ease of use: 3
Cork removal: 5
Price: 3 (Monopol Westmark puller, $22.99)
The two-prong puller takes some practice, but works exceptionally well. To use it, you maneuver the puller around the cork (with each prong on either side of the cork) and pull up as you twist the bottle and the puller at the same time.
Do I think this is the best tool for most at-home wine drinkers? No, but if you’re into (or wanting to get into) old wine, which has more delicate corks, or dealing with a recessed cork, this is a tool you should have on hand.
You can also use it to re-cork a bottle of wine. If you’re getting this, it’s also worth buying a cork retriever, as this tool does take some getting used to and, while you’re doing so, it’s easy to accidentally push the cork downwards and into the wine.
Wine Opener Type: Air Pump
Ease of use: 3
Cork removal: 5
Price: 4 (Wine Ziz wine opener, $5.99, normally $12.99)
The award for the most fun to use goes to … the air pump! The model I got comes with a foil cutter and a little bag for storage, which is a nice touch. To use this gadget, you place the pump over the exposed cork, slowly plunge the pump (and its needle) down and then pump the handle until the cork pops out. (I averaged around five pumps.)
It’s cool to use, but definitely only appropriate for new wines. The pumping would be far too tough on an older wine’s cork.
Wine Opener Type: Winged
There are lots of winged corkscrews out there, but I particularly like OXO’s corkscrew, which has a foil cutter that snaps onto the base, ensuring that it doesn’t get lost. To use a winged corkscrew, you twist the top knob to lower the corkscrew down and into the cork and, as you do that, the corkscrew’s arms move upwards. When the arms are at their most vertical point, you stop twisting the top knob and push the arms downward to raise the cork out of the bottle. To remove the cork from the worm, simply twist the top knob until the cork falls out of the bottom.
This wine opener is certainly effective and easy to use.
Wine Opener Type: Wine Key
Ease of use: 4
Cork removal: 4
Price: 5 (Pulltap’s Double-Hinged Waiters Corkscrew, $7.99)
When you think of a wine opener, this is likely what you picture in your mind’s eye. (It’s technically called a waiter’s corkscrew and, you guessed it, it’s what most servers use in restaurants.) The Pulltap’s brand is widely considered the best. It has a collapsible serrated knife to cut through foil, and to use it you twist the key’s corkscrew into the exposed cork and begin to slowly raise the cork up, using the key’s metal arm for leverage as you lift. The metal arm has two notches to help as you lift. It sounds complicated, but it’s really not. Promise. (Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to using one.)
This wine opener works extremely well. I love that it’s inexpensive, doesn’t require batteries, and it comes in all sorts of fun colors and patterns.
Wine Opener Type: Vertical Lever
Ease of use: 5
Cork removal: 5
Price: 2 (Oxo Steel Vertical Lever Corkscrew, $44.95)
This was by far the easiest wine opener I tried. It removed the wine cork so swiftly and so smoothly, I couldn’t believe it. I honestly didn’t think much of this option before I tried, but even the older members of my family and left-handed folks had successful tries with this guy. It has a built-in foil cutter and comes with an extra corkscrew, should you need it in the future.
To use the gadget, you you raise the lever, put the neck over the exposed cork, lower the lever and corkscrew into the cork, and raise the lever to remove the cork from the bottle. To release the cork from the corkscrew, you just lift the lever up. That’s it! The pumping action couldn’t be easier.
While it’s a bit of an investment, I strongly believe it’s a small price to pay for flawless wine opening, time and time again.
How I Tested the Wine Openers
I used each opener to open (you guessed it!) a few bottles of wine. If the wine opener came with a foil cutter, I used that as well. I evaluated how easy the wine openers were to use and how efficiently they removed the corks.
Do you have a favorite wine opener? Tell us about it in the comments!