Wine is one of the greatest pleasures in life, especially when you have a nice bottle that has be stored and saved for a special evening. Old corks have the unfortunate tendency to be fragile though, and not all cork screws are made equally. To avoid the frustration of a broken cork, you need a quality cork screw that is suitable for old bottles. We’ve researched the different types available and will explain their pros and cons, then offer a few suggestions for the best models. An old cork doesn’t have to detract from your enjoyment of that perfect bottle. Cheers!
What makes a corkscrew a suitable tool for old corks?
There are a few main types of corkscrews available, and within each type there are models ranging from bargain bin prices right up to some that cost hundreds of dollars. While the choice is up to you, it’s important to know that there are some very good options for very affordable prices.
As mentioned earlier, not all cork screws are made equally. Some of the cheaper ones have badly designed screws that tend to shred the cork, leaving you frustrated and dealing with cork particles in your wine. A very annoying situation to find yourself in. However, a good screw will have a large spiral with a hollow center, rather than a central rod with a blade around the margin.
The waiter’s friend
Seen commonly all over the world in handbags, kitchen drawers and restaurants, is the ‘waiter’s friend’ style of corkscrew. These are the classic corkscrews that look a little like swiss army knives, although much larger models exist. There is a blade or a foil cutter at one end, a screw in the center and a lever which is used to help remove the cork at the other end. These are great, simple tools, but are not usually the best for dealing with older wines as they require a lot of skill to remove old corks cleanly.
The butler’s friend
The ‘butlers friend’, or ‘Ah-so’, is an old method for removing corks but looks strange and functions very differently from your typical corkscrew. Rather than using a screw, two prongs slide down between the cork and the glass of the bottle. With an easily learnt technique of wiggling and then a little twisting and pulling, these tools will slide the cork right out of bottle in one piece. This style is perfect for older, more fragile corks.
Screwpull and electrical
The screwpull, invented in 1979, is a corkscrew with a Teflon coated screw. These are very easy to use. After guiding the tool onto the bottle, turning the handle screws into the cork with a firm grip while turning the handle will begin to pull the cork out of the bottle. This type of corkscrew will almost always allow for an easy removal of even the oldest and most difficult of corks.
There are also electric contraptions for cork removal, but for old corks containing excellent wine, these seem a little out of place. They can also be difficult to use when removing damaged or fragile corks, so for the purpose of aged bottles, we do not recommend their use.
Who needs a corkscrew?
Sure there are many methods to open a wine bottle, ranging from the theatrical such as heated port tongs or a cavalryman’s sabre. There are also impractical and infuriating methods like using a shoe or a screwdriver. Really, you need a corkscrew, and buying one that is suitable for using on old bottles is a worthy investment for your happiness.
Le Creuset Table Model Wine Opener
This is a very well designed original screwpull that will make opening old bottles a breeze. This wine bottle opener will screw into every type of cork including synthetic ones with ease, and then pull the cork right out of the bottle. It looks stylish too.
While there are a few complaints about this particular model breaking, many people have used it for years without any problems. Plus, at an affordable price with a five-year warranty, this shouldn’t be a worry. Reviews rave about its ease of use, wonderful look, and say that it slides into any cork without ever pushing the cork down. A great option to check out that works wonders on any size (or age) bottle of wine.
Monopol Westmark Germany Steel Two-Prong Cork Puller With Cover
This is the gold standard for a ‘butler’s friend’ type of corkscrew. It excels in the removal of even the oldest corks without damaging them. Buyers say that it works efficiently and is as simple to use as claimed, meaning the quality of this German-made product is excellent.
This ‘ah-so’ is elegantly simple and is perfect for dealing with older corks.
What is the best corkscrew for old corks?
If you want to enjoy a beautiful, aged bottle of wine from your cellar, then you need a good quality corkscrew. Many corkscrews are low quality and have a habit of ripping, breaking or pushing the cork, especially with old corks. We recommend the Monopol Westmark Germany Steel Two-Prong Cork Puller as the best corkscrew for old corks. It is stylish and efficient in the removal of even the most fragile of corks, making a wine evening even more enjoyable. Whichever model you choose though, let’s hope your bottle doesn’t have corkage! Happy drinking!