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Ask Dr. Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.




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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I have found that the slight angle created by traditional lever-action waiter's key corkscrews can cause delicate old corks to break. In my experience, the best option is the old winged corkscrew, because the pressure it exerts on the cork is directed straight up.

—Michael S., St. Louis

Dear Michael,

Everyone has to pick a corkscrew that works best for them. A waiter’s key corkscrew is really handy because it lets you open a bottle of wine without having to rest it on a flat surface, which is why it is great for servers in a restaurant. I also like how it slips easily into a pocket.

I’m not a fan of the cheap, old-fashioned winged corkscrew—I find that they can shred most corks, and then they often result in me trying to pry the last bit of the cork out with the bottle between my knees.

I’m more an admirer of the Rabbit-brand corkscrews. I like how quickly they work, but using them does require resting the bottle on a table or counter, which makes it less elegant when opening bottles in front of people. I will say that I’ve had some experiences where the force of pushing the worm into the cork can either push the cork further into the bottle or crack a dried out cork.

The other opener in my arsenal is the two-pronged ah-so, which I use on older corks, or for corks that seem really tightly wedged into the neck of a bottle. It takes a little getting used to, but it keeps the cork intact, even if it’s fragile.

—Dr. Vinny

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