- We tested wine keys, winged and lever corkscrews, and electric openers on dozens of wine bottles.
- Le Creuset’s Waiter’s Corkscrew gives the best leverage to remove corks smoothly and comfortably.
- See also: The best wine glasses
There’s only one thing between you and a delicious glass of wine, and that’s the cork. If you’ve ever spent too much time wrangling a bottle with a flimsy wine opener, now’s your chance to get a strong and reliable replacement.
We spoke to sommeliers, winemakers, and beverage directors, and they all agreed that a double-hinged wine key (also known as a waiter’s corkscrew) is the best kind of wine opener. It provides excellent leverage and also comes with a small blade to cut the foil off your bottle.
“The classic double-hinged waiter’s corkscrew is the gold standard that people should master. It is probably one of the most common types in the wine world,” said Peter Mondavi, Jr., co-proprietor of Charles Krug Winery in Napa Valley.
That said, we’ve also included other options in case you prefer a quick electric opener or something for your older bottles. Learn about the differences between wine opener types (wine key, winged corkscrew, lever, Ah-So, and more) here.
If you’re new to wine, don’t feel intimidated. We have plenty of expert-backed tips and tricks at the end of this guide, as well as photos and videos throughout to show you exactly how to use each wine opener.
After opening 36 bottles of wine, we found the best five wine openers to keep in your drawer. Here’s how we tested each contender.
Here are the best wine openers of 2021:
- Best wine opener overall: Le Creuset Waiter’s Friend Corkscrew
- Best winged corkscrew: KitchenAid Gourmet Winged Corkscrew
- Best lever corkscrew: Rabbit Vertical Lever Corkscrew
- Best wine opener on a budget: Truetap Double-Hinged Corkscrew
- Best electric wine opener: Secura Electric Wine Opener
The Le Creuset Waiter’s Friend Corkscrew is a beautiful wine key that’s comfortable to hold and provides the leverage to pull corks out with little resistance. Its foil cutter is sharp and easy to use, while its nonstick screw inserts smoothly into natural and synthetic corks alike.
Pros: Durable construction, attractive, nonstick screw inserts easily, provides strong leverage to remove cork
Cons: Hand wash only
Wine pros love wine keys because they’re compact and easy to carry around, and they have everything you need to pull a stubborn cork out, including a smart, simple leverage system and a built-in foil cutter.
Le Creuset’s wine key is functional and beautiful to boot. Made from sturdy stainless steel, with a wooden handle, it feels substantial, looks great, and was the most comfortable to grasp of all the wine keys we tried. The sharp, serrated foil cutter cuts through foil easily. The screw, which is coated in a nonstick material, works well on a variety of corks and doesn’t leave a mess once inserted or removed.
The hinges throughout the wine key have just the right amount of give — they’re not too tight or loose — and the two boot lever notches (the parts that rest on the lip on the bottle) sit comfortably on the bottle opening. They won’t slip off as you’re pulling the cork out. There’s even a helpful “push” etching to remind you of how to use these levers.
The best winged corkscrew
Unlike many of the flimsy openers in this category of corkscrew, the KitchenAid Gourmet Winged Corkscrew is strong, heavy-duty, and comfortable to grip.
Pros: Soft grips on the wings and top handle, fits securely over bottle opening, strong wings, dishwasher-safe
Cons: Wings may loosen after long-term use
Most of my bad experiences with wine openers come from winged corkscrews. The wings break, they’re not strong enough to pull the cork out, or the screw doesn’t insert securely into the cork. KitchenAid’s contender gave me hope in the maligned winged corkscrew again.
It feels thick and substantial, and it has a non-slip grip material on the top handle, wings, and bottom to help prevent the bottle from moving. The screw inserts into corks smoothly, while the wings pull them out effectively.
We recommend being patient and pushing down on the wings slowly from the top. There can be a little resistance depending on the kind of cork you use, but consistent pressure should pop the cork out successfully in the end. It’s also easy to push the cork back out by turning the handle counterclockwise.
While this was the most comfortable and efficient winged corkscrew we tried, we also know that winged openers often break after a lot of use, so we’re continuing to test this corkscrew for long-term durability.
The best lever corkscrew
Featuring stainless steel construction and a comfortable, textured grip, the Rabbit Vertical Lever Corkscrew makes removing corks easy with a single pulling motion.
Pros: Textured handle grip, comes with a foil cutter, durable
Cons: Struggles with synthetic cork, hard to see whether it’s inserted in the middle of the cork
Using a lever corkscrew is only a matter of two steps: place the corkscrew into the cork, then squeeze the bottom of the opener and pull the lever upwards to remove the cork.
It might not be the best design for visual people, since the cylindrical opener covers the entire bottle top and it can be hard to tell when the cork has been removed if you’re a beginner.
Still, Rabbit makes using a vertical lever corkscrew nearly foolproof. Even if you don’t insert the screw right in the middle, it pulls the cork out smoothly, and the lever feels sturdy and durable. It does struggle more with synthetic corks, though, and you might experience some resistance while pulling.
In addition to the smooth operation, the cushioned and textured grip on the handle was a standout feature. This made pulling on the handle much more comfortable and gave me confidence that my hand wouldn’t slip.
The best wine opener on a budget
It’s not the most comfortable to hold, but the Truetap Double-Hinged Corkscrew removes corks smoothly and effectively. It comes in many different colors so you can find one that fits your personal style.
Pros: Good value, nonstick screw inserts easily, provides strong leverage to remove cork, comes in many colors
Cons: Foil cutter is difficult to get out, less comfortable to grip than the Le Creuset
The Truetap corkscrew is metal all around. It’s slim and light, with a thinner grip than the Le Creuset corkscrew. Because of this design, I found it less comfortable to hold as I removed the cork. I also had trouble pulling out the foil cutter, which was frustrating.
However, the overall effectiveness of the corkscrew is still there. All the hinges operate smoothly and aren’t too tight or loose. The boot lever notches sit securely on the bottle lip and the screw is coated in a nonstick material, letting me pull out both synthetic and natural corks with no problem.
It’s hard to find a corkscrew that’s both this affordable and effective, plus it comes in more than two dozen colors. You could easily stock up on a few of these openers and they’d still cost less than a nice bottle of wine.
The best electric wine opener
The sleek, fast-charging, and cordless Secura Electric Wine Opener can pull out 30 corks on one charge. All you do is push a button and it does the work for you.
Pros: Cordless, rechargeable, requires much less physical effort, comes with a foil cutter, has a viewing window
Cons: Bulkier than other types of openers, must be charged
Most kinds of wine openers require some physical effort and hand mobility. An electric wine opener is much more accessible. To use Secura’s wine opener, all you need to do is press and hold the “down” button and it will insert the screw into the cork and take it out of the bottle. When you press the “up” button, it pushes the cork off the screw.
One tip is to hold the bottle as the opener does the work, or else the bottle will also spin. Other than that, the opener is user-friendly and efficient. There’s a clear plastic section on the bottom so you can watch the screw enter the cork and make sure it’s removing the cork effectively. And, the included foil cutter is very sharp.
It takes eight hours to charge, and the accompanying charging base is compact and unassuming. Since it’s made mostly from stainless steel, the opener looks sleeker and feels a lot more substantial then another top competitor, Oster’s electric opener.
Our testing methodology
I tested each wine opener on four bottles of wine: two bottles of Barefoot Wine, which uses synthetic cork, and two bottles of Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw (aka “Two-Buck Chuck”), which uses natural cork. In this initial round of testing, I opened 36 bottles of wine. I rated each opener on how smoothly and easily it pulled out the cork, while noting the comfort, compactness, and design features that added or detracted from its use.
I also washed each opener to evaluate the ease and comfort of washing and any specific care instructions. Finally, I dropped each opener from hip level onto the ground five times to test durability.
What else we tested
What else we recommend and why
OXO Winged Corkscrew with Removable Foil Cutter: I loved that this model has a clever, removable foil cutter that detaches from the bottom. It’s comfortable to hold and removes corks smoothly. The main drawback is that it feels less substantial and sturdy than our top KitchenAid pick.
Oster Cordless Electric Wine Opener: The Oster removes all kinds of corks effectively. Personally, I found the style less attractive, and the construction felt cheaper than our top Secura pick. Still, its actual cork removal performance is great and it charges in eight hours to remove 30 corks on one charge.
What we don’t recommend and why
Viski Winged Corkscrew: This winged corkscrew is made completely of metal, which means it’s brittle and uncomfortable to use. It was especially uncomfortable and felt tight when pulling out synthetic corks.
OXO Vertical Corkscrew: This vertical lever corkscrew has inconsistent performance and only pulled synthetic corks out completely. It was also difficult to insert the screw.
Pulltap’s openers sold on Amazon: Pulltap’s was the brand most referenced and recommended by wine experts. To buy one of their wine openers online, you have to order it from Spain and pay an expensive shipping fee. As many reviewers (including Wirecutter) have discovered, Amazon is full of imitations and fakes, and they’re poorly made. If you’re willing to deal with international shipping, order it from the official site. In our next update, we’ll be ordering one from Amazon and one from the brand site to compare them side-by-side.
What we’re testing next
Pulltap’s Classic Corkscrew: We plan on ordering a Pulltap’s opener from the official site to see if all the extra shipping and international payment hurdles are worth the effort. The Classic Corkscrew has a double-hinged design, with two boot levers, a Teflon-coated screw, and a built-in serrated foil cutter.
Zwilling J.A. Henckels Waiter’s Corkscrew with Micarta Handle: This beautiful opener with a handle made from linen and resin comes highly recommended by senior reporter Owen Burke. It has a classic two-step design, nonstick screw, and built-in foil cutter.
Laguiole En Aubrac Waiter’s Corkscrew: We were sold by beverage director Jordan Salcito’s glowing review of the brand. She told Insider Reviews, “Their selection — in terms of style and price point -— is extraordinary and if you’re looking for a gift (for a wine lover or yourself), they engrave and also work with some incredible materials such as fossilized wooly mammoth tusk or wood from trees planted at Versaille by Marie Antoinette. They also offer a lifetime guarantee. If anything goes awry you can mail in your wine key and they’ll fix it, then send it back as good as new.”
Wine opener FAQs
What’s the best wine opener for beginners?
All our experts recommend the double-hinged wine key. Once you learn how to use it, it’s a breeze: “The two-step hinged wine key is great for beginners because it’s pretty straight-forward — you basically insert the screw into the cork, then twist and use the bottle as a leverage point to remove the cork easily and, most importantly, in one piece,” said Alison Rodriguez, a winemaker for The Hess Collection.
Help! The cork is stubborn and won’t come out. How do you get it out?
Take it slow and be firm with it. “Good old careful muscle is the best way to get out a stubborn cork,” said Jordan Salcito, founder of wine brand Ramona and former beverage director at Momofuku.
The screw placement is also important. It needs to be centered and deep in the cork. “I hold the screw at an angle to the bottle and poke the tip into the cork and then move the screw vertical before screwing it in,” said Mondavi, Jr.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to take the task to the ground (really!). Mondavi, Jr. said, “Though not very graceful, it’s functional for very stubborn corks: place the bottle on the ground between your feet. Firmly hold the neck of the bottle down and pull straight up on the corkscrew handle. Once the cork is ‘broken loose,’ you can bring it up to the table to finish the job.”
How do you remove a delicate or old cork?
An Ah-So opener is the best type to tackle an old, delicate cork. “If you suspect from the start that you are working with a tricky cork, I’d go straight to the Ah-So opener. You may want to keep a decanter close by just in case you encounter a bit of crumbling along the way,” said Katie Griesbeck, the vice president of sales and marketing at Cakebread Cellars. An Ah-So wine opener has two thin prongs, which you wiggle in between the cork and lip of the bottle. Then, you twist the opener to remove the cork.
“You could also use a Durand which has both a corkscrew and the prongs on the side,” said Conor McKee, a partner and buyer at FIASCO! Wine and Spirits. “These are a little pricey ($125), but if you’re opening something special, or frequently opening older bottles, you’ll certainly get your money’s worth.”
Types of wine openers
Wine key: Also known as a waiter’s corkscrew. It’s typically double hinged and contains a foil cutter and handle on one side, a screw in the middle, and two notched pieces on the other side. To use it, open up both sides and insert the screw. Bring the side with the notched pieces down vertically and push the top piece inwards to rest on the lip of the bottle. Pull the handle on the other side to bring the cork out halfway. The notched piece should provide enough leverage. Once there’s enough space, switch to and move the bottom notched piece to the lip of the bottle and continue pulling the handle to completely remove the cork.
Winged corkscrew: A wine opener with a wing on each side and a top handle that’s connected to a screw in the middle. Insert the screw and twist the handle to push the screw deeper. As you’re pushing the screw in, the wings on each side should lift up. Once the screw is deep enough, hold and push down the outer wings to remove the cork.
Lever corkscrew: A wine opener with a lever on one side. To use it, insert the screw, then squeeze the bottom of the opener and pull the lever upwards to remove the cork.
Electric opener: A wine opener that’s usually rechargeable. It inserts the screw and removes the cork for you. Typically, it’s operated with simple up and down buttons.
Ah-So opener: A wine opener with one long prong and one shorter prong. It’s used to remove delicate or old corks. To use it, wiggle the long prong in between the cork and bottle. Then wiggle the shorter prong in, and twist the handle slowly to remove the cork.
And, here are two wine opener terms you should know:
Foil cutter: A utensil used to cut the foil off the top of a wine bottle. It can come in the form of a small serrated knife, or as a circular accessory that has two blades. For the latter, you place the accessory over the top of the bottle, squeeze, and turn it to cut through the foil.
Screw: Also known as a worm. The coiled part of a wine opener that is sharp on one end and inserted into the cork to remove it.
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