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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I installed a new spiral in my Rabbit lever corkscrew. The last two wine bottles, the spiral went in easily but came right back out without the cork. This has happened in the past but after one slip it would work properly. Any suggestions?

—Ray F., Kingsford, Mich.

Dear Ray,

I use those lever-type corkscrews often and actually have a lot of suggestions.

My biggest tip is to make sure you are firmly gripping the handles that sit around the neck of the bottle. Like, very firmly. That’s what’s usually wrong if the spiral, technically called the "worm," is going in and out without removing the cork. I’m no engineer, but the way I understand it, those two handles pivot on spring-loaded hinges, and when those handles are held tight and firm, the neck of the bottle acts as a fulcrum, or pivot point, generating a levering force causing the motion of the worm to extract the cork. It’s not going to work with a loose grip.

Another tip is to make sure the cap securing the worm is always screwed tight. After several uses, it can loosen up and the worm can start acting funny, sliding around and unable to exert enough force to penetrate the cork.

You mentioned that you inserted a new worm, and that’s my third tip: Make sure to pay attention to when it’s time to replace it. After a while, the coating will wear off, and that will make the whole contraption less efficient. Simply replace the worm and make sure the cap above it is tight and secure.

Finally, avoid using lever screw pulls on wax-coated corks. Yes, it might work, but it will challenge the integrity of the worm. Running it under some really hot water can help clean it off. In general, you might want to make sure you occasionally wipe off the worm to make sure it’s clean. Hope that helps!

—Dr. Vinny

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