Wine Gadget: Wine Bottle Openers

By Kori ~ September 15th, 2009.

No matter where you are, when you want to open a bottle of wine you need a wine bottle opener…unless, of course, it’s a screwcap bottle. Over the years, I’ve tried them all and concluded that there’s no single type of opener that works best for all situations. However, some are clearly better than others, depending on the circumstances.

Here are the basic types of wine bottle openers and when they work best:

  • Waiter's FriendWaiter’s Friend – It looks like a pocketknife and is a very versatile opener. You can carry it in your pocket, keep it in your suitcase or your car, or use it at home. It’s what you see the waiter use to open a bottle at your table, thus the name. While different versions are offered at a wide range of prices, it is generally an inexpensive opener and sometimes is even a “giveaway” at a winery or wine event. The Waiter’s Friend takes some muscle and some getting used to, but it’s hard to beat for the price. Its usability and portability make it the perfect choice for a picnic or in a hotel room on vacation. Available in regular and double-hinged versions. I have found the double-hinged version much easier to use. (Price: ~$5 to $15)
  • Ah-So Opener
  • Ah-So Opener – It’s the opener with two thin strips of metal that you slide down between the cork and the glass, then twist and pull to extract the cork. I find it trickier to use than the instructions indicate it should be. It really depends on the kind of cork you have whether it will work well or not. I wouldn’t recommend it for general use and certainly wouldn’t use it to remove synthetic corks, but it is good to have one around when you have a damaged or fragile cork. (Price: ~$10 to $30)
  • Cork Pops – This is an air-pump cork remover that we previously reviewed and demonstrated in a video. You insert a hollow needle through the cork and then push on the end of the cartridge to force propellant into the bottle which “pops” the cork out. With a normal size cork, it works fine, but with an extra long cork, the needle may not be long enough to penetrate below the cork to release the propellant. For opening a number of bottles in a row at home (like we do for our monthly wine tasting dinners), it’s a good choice. However, the propellant cartridges have to be replaced after about 60 to 80 bottles. (Price: ~$20; replacement cartridges – package of two, ~$8)
  • The RabbitThe Rabbit – There are a number of lever wine openers on the market, such as the Metrokane Rabbit and the Screwpull Elegance. There is a wide range in price, but they all seem to work about the same. The Rabbit has been a gift-giving favorite for years. I’ve found that they generally work as advertised in getting the cork out of the bottle. It’s when you then try to get the cork off of the “worm” that you often need some muscle and can pinch your fingers. There are also lever-type wine openers that attach to a bar or countertop, but for this post, I’m only evaluating the more portable hand-held types of openers. (Price: ~$30 to $120)
  • Electric OpenerElectric Opener – Light and mobile, you simply remove the opener from its charger base, place it over the top of the bottle, and it removes the cork with a touch of a button. Then, with another touch of a button, it releases the cork from the “worm”. It’s another opener that’s becoming popular as a gift item. We’ve found the Oster Model 4207 to be a good and reliable opener that will open a number of bottles on one charge. (Price: ~$20 to $25)

When it comes to wine bottle openers (as with most things), it boils down to personal preference and the circumstances in which you are using them. Personally, I use a double-hinged Waiter’s Friend most often, whether at home or traveling. But Dad prefers the Electric Opener for everyday use at home. The Waiter’s Friend seems to be the most versatile when traveling, and it’s a good idea to have an Ah-So or Cork Pops around to use when you run into a damaged cork. Of these five styles, The Rabbit is the one that I use least.

What is your favorite wine bottle opener?

(Photos from

Filed under: Wine Gadget

Reader's Comments

  1. Paul Zitarelli | September 15th, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Waiter’s style for me. Best price; most flexible (works for old corks, new corks, short corks, long corks); and when you get one with the right heft, the bottle-opening process brings a certain amount of pleasure before any of the wine is poured. I have never felt that w/ any of the more expensive options.

  2. Kori | September 16th, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Thanks, Paul. I completely agree. It’s the waiter’s friend for me too. There’s just something about a “traditional” corkscrew. Cheers!

  3. Alex | September 22nd, 2009 at 10:23 am

    The Waiter’s style is definitely the classic amongst the bunch. It’s multi-functional, light and when used properly, makes light weight of most corks. That said, I am a sucker for anything gadget and I particularly like the Electric Openers. The Rabbit has caused me a few sore knicks in the past!

  4. Kori | September 23rd, 2009 at 7:14 am

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m always excited to try the latest gadget too but end up coming back to the waiter’s friend. Cheers!

  5. Alex | September 29th, 2009 at 8:21 am

    It’s hard for me to admit, but sometimes simple is best, you just can’t beat classic design for some things! 🙂