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It’s safe to say you’ve probably opened at least one wine bottle in your life. Whether you’re comfortable with it (or do it often) is another story. With the help of two of our favorite wine experts, we’ve put together a guide to navigating the process with the right tool for your needs and preferences. Linda Trotta, winemaker at Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, breaks down the market’s main offerings in approachable terms: “Openers fall into a few categories: levered, hinged [waiter’s friend], rabbit-eared, electronic, and then the very pretty but highly frustrating old fashioned cork pullers shaped like a ‘T,’” she shares. Then, there are specialty tools like the Ah-So, designed for older corks, but this shouldn’t necessarily be the only wine opener you have on hand, Trotta notes.
Like Trotta, D.C.-based blogger and wine pro Alicia Chew is partial to the classic waiter’s friend-style, the simple yet effective traditional design that you’ll see used at most bars and restaurants. “They're pretty simple and inexpensive, and one of the most convenient options on the market.” Here, we’ll break down why you should have at least one waiter’s friend in your arsenal and explore other options for every scenario.
Easy to use and hold
Includes foil cutter
Red light is harsh
Oster’s Cordless Electric Wine Bottle Opener is your quintessential electric workhorse. It's a go-to for many casual everyday wine drinkers (the rave reviews speak for themselves), is available in multiple color options, and comes with a foil cutter. Our product tester found that this rechargeable electric wine opener, which can open up to 30 bottles on one single charge, fits all traditional wine bottles and is extremely easy to use (on top of that, it’s ergonomic and quite comfortable to hold).
To remove any cork in seconds with zero physical effort, just place the opener on the neck of the bottle and press the lower switch to bring the worm down into the cork. Press the upper switch to pull the cork out, and voilà.
"I like the Oster’s sleek design and attractive appearance; the silver unit blends in nicely with my stainless steel appliances." — Sage McHugh, Product Tester
Includes foil cutter
Transparent corkscrew mechanism
Wobbles on charger base
Foil cutter can be knocked off easily
“If you have limited mobility in your arm/hand, I would definitely recommend an electric opener,” says Chew. These can be pricier than manual models, Chew adds, but according to her, once you learn how to use it, it’s an incredibly easy tool to use. “These typically have a rechargeable battery, and they do all the work for you. You don't have to worry about angling the cork, or your arm strength,” she continues.
The Secura Stainless Steel Electric Wine Opener features a sleek stainless steel design, durable mechanism, rechargeable battery (it can open around 30 bottles on one charge), and an internal light to help you see what you’re doing. This comes as a set with some helpful accessories to help you step up your wine drinking game. In addition to the device and its aesthetically pleasing and compact charging base, Secura’s top-rated set features a foil cutter, which Trotta considers an essential. “It’s [very] handy to have a sharp circular foil cutter to get that perfect cut on the capsule,” she says.
To use this set, remove the foil with the cutter, then place the opener on the bottle neck, making sure that the worm is centered on the cork (the tool generally keeps things pretty centered, but it’s always good to double-check through the transparent window). From there, just push the down button and your cork will be removed in approximately 6 seconds.
"An innovative feature is the transparent shell of the corkscrew mechanism, which eliminates any guesswork and allows you to easily line up the opener with the cork." — Sage McHugh, Product Tester
Beautiful, modern design
Easy to operate
May not consistently remove cork from bottle
If you’re looking for a display piece that will add drama to any space (and inevitably generate good conversation), check out Rabbit’s tabletop corkscrew from its beautifully designed RBT line. It’s a modern lever design, but the difference here is that it’s stationary, meaning you don’t have to handle it all on your own—it stays in place while you simply operate the lever as the bottle rests in its pivoting brass coaster on the acacia wood and metal platform (this stabilizes the bottle, making it super easy to operate).
All you have to do is lift up the adjustable lever to raise the worm, place the bottle in its designated nook, then bring down the handle to insert the worm into the cork. From there, simply raise the lever back up to release the cork. The RBT tabletop corkscrew is compatible with both standard 750-milliliter bottles and magnums (1.5 liters).
Customers give this high marks for its unique design, with one saying it made a great holiday gift. However, a few people say that it doesn't consistently remove the cork from the bottle.
Straightforward to use
Wing handles are thin
Winged corkscrews are a bit old-school, but they have their perks. They’re also relatively affordable, generally speaking (particularly this model). Chew recommends a winged-style corkscrew for a few reasons: “[These have] an additional lever, and this is a popular option because it's easier to use than the standard wine key,” she says. “It's almost impossible to angle the lever incorrectly with a winged corkscrew.”
To use, simply secure the corkscrew onto the neck of the bottle after removing the foil, double-checking that the screw itself is aimed straight down at the center of the cork. Then, twist the top clockwise to drive the worm downward and into the cork. Once it’s fully inserted, the wings will have risen—just push those down with both hands and it’ll do most of the work to pull the cork out for you with the help of your leverage. This version by TableCraft is a budget-friendly, no-frills model with a plastic ring to protect the bottle in addition to sturdy chrome construction, and best of all, it’s dishwasher-safe.
Besides its affordability, customers like this corkscrew because it's very easy to use and takes seconds to uncork a bottle. However, a few people say that the wings are a bit flimsy.
Built-in serrated foil cutter
Scratch-resistant, ergonomic handle
Comes in many color options
“Sometimes called a ‘sommelier’s cork puller,’ the double-hinged versions are, by far, the most preferred by the wine community. They’re sturdy, they fit perfectly in your hand and then into your pocket, and the investment is easy to swallow,” says Trotta. Double-hinged corkscrews, as opposed to those with a single hinge, provide additional leverage to safely and easily remove either synthetic or natural corks from any bottle. According to Trotta, this style also generally avoids puncturing through the bottom of the cork, which can lead to cork bits ending up in your wine (although if it’s natural cork, this is no big deal—just remove the pieces if they make it into your glass).
You can find plenty of quality double-hinged classic corkscrews for under $15, but if you’re willing to spend a bit more, go for a design with a grooved worm, like this Le Creuset waiter’s friend. As a longtime wine writer and sommelier-in-training, this is one of my absolute favorite features in a wine key—the groove ensures a smooth and easy journey into the cork. This version comes in a multitude of color options and features a scratch-resistant ergonomic handle, built-in serrated foil cutter, and a 10-year limited warranty.
Fun and easy to use
Great for those with limited mobility
Needle may come loose
The HOST AirPOP is one of the best air pump-style wine openers out there (and it’s pretty fun to use). This device uses compressed inert gas to pull a bottle’s cork, and all it takes is the simple touch of a button. To use this opener, insert the needle into the cork’s center after removing the foil cap from the bottle. Then, press down on the top of the opener, and before you know it, the cork comes out with a satisfying “pop.”
With the HOST AirPOP, you’ll need the brand’s gas cartridges to operate it, but each one can open up to 80 bottles. To remove the cork from the device, just give the base a good twist until it’s released. This style doesn’t require much physical force to use, so if you’re working with limited mobility or don’t have a lot of upper body strength, this is an excellent option to consider. This also received high marks due to how light and compact it is, though one customer says the needle came loose for her after several uses.
Elegant, sleek design
Removes cork smoothly
Requires a bit of force to use
If a lever opener is more your style, consider this elegant, compact design by Brookstone. With its small-yet-mighty size, ergonomic grip, streamlined metal construction, and new design defined by its extra-long lever for optimal leverage, you can pull any cork (natural or synthetic) with little to no effort in 3 seconds flat. This model is extremely durable.
To open your bottle, align the opener so that the worm is positioned at the center of the cork, then push the lever down to insert. Then, lift the handle with one hand while securely gripping the opener around the bottle with the other, and your cork will pop out in one smooth motion.
People love the sleekness and compactness of this opener's design, as well as its smooth operation. A few users add, however, that you need a bit of upper body strength to use it.
Helps preserve high-quality wine for longer
Easy to use
Great gift for wine lovers
Coravin is every wine pro’s secret weapon. While it’s not technically an opener, it not only pours your wine, but preserves whatever you don’t drink—essentially, you’re accessing your wine without actually opening the bottle. Think of it as a fancy tap that bypasses the cork using a needle and inert gas, allowing you to pour your wine without exposing it to oxygen, meaning it’ll keep as if you never opened it at all (both a natural and synthetic cork will reseal itself after you remove the needle).
This means that you don’t really have to think about whether or not you’re going to finish a bottle, and you’ll minimize your wine waste significantly. Now, this tool is an investment (as are its accessories), but it’s also a game-changer. You’ll need to stock the gas cartridges, and you can also add on other attachments like an aerator, which will cut your aerating time significantly. Just note that this system is not compatible with screw caps.
Wine lovers who like to savor their wine, as well as people who only enjoy wine occasionally, say they're happy they made this investment.
Durable, high-quality construction
Ideal for bottles of older wine
Great gift for wine collectors
Has a learning curve
The Ah-So style, according to Trotta, is something that most wine professionals own. This tool features two prongs that slide down the sides of the cork, its design intended to gently and effectively pull old and brittle corks. This type of opener is great to have around if you drink the occasional older wine, but it’s not exactly an essential for the casual everyday drinker, Trotta adds, noting that it shouldn’t be the only one you have on hand.
A good, high-quality Ah-So makes an excellent gift for any wine collector or advanced enthusiast in your life (or if you yourself happen to be either of those things). MONOPOL Germany’s expertly-crafted two-prong steel opener comes in a sleek, silver satin finish and comes with a decorative cover and a five-year warranty.
The Oster Cordless Electric Wine Bottle Opener with Foil Cutter takes the top spot because it makes bottle-opening practically effortless. Plus, it boasts a sleek, compact design. If you enjoy or handle aged wines often, go for the MONOPOL Westmark Germany Steel Two-Prong Cork Puller with Cover. It's durable and made of high-quality materials.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Céline Bossart is a wine and spirits writer for The Spruce Eats. While she's opened her fair share of wine bottles, she also enlisted the help of Linda Trotta, winemaker at Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, and D.C.-based blogger and wine pro Alicia Chew to round up the best wine openers for whatever your needs and preference may be.