How do I know if I should use an ah-so pronged cork puller instead of a regular corkscrew?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

How do I know if I should use an ah-so pronged cork puller instead of a regular corkscrew?

—Becky, Milford, Mich.

Dear Becky,

For those not familiar with what you’re talking about, that two-pronged wine opener designed for extracting crumbly, fragile corks from old wine bottles is called an “ah-so.” The ah-so offers a gentler way of removing the cork, grabbing it from the outside rather than forcing a spiral (known as the “worm”) through the center of the cork (the latter process can cause delicate, old or dried-out corks to crack or crumble).

There’s no timetable for when a cork might become too old and fragile for a traditional corkscrew (and even if you do break or crumble the cork, no harm will come to the wine). The condition of a 10- or 20- or 50-year-old cork can vary greatly depending on the quality of the cork and the bottle’s storage conditions over that time.

—Dr. Vinny

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