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Vol. 16 "How to Select and Use a Corkscrew"

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Again, the Fault of the English!! ... and Also, by Necessity
How to Select and Use a Corkscrew
Book of Bertil 16.01


The corkscrew was born out of necessity, because since the English began to sell wine in bottles closed by corks in the late seventeenth century, consumers have always struggled to easily remove these corks. So as soon as the first glass bottles appeared, inventors began to imagine instruments facilitating the removal of corks. "The Corkscrew". And this has been going on for more than 300 years.

16.1.1 The First Patent 

Reverend Samuel Henshall received the world's first patent for a corkscrew in 1795. Henshall, a religious leader in Oxford, England, collaborated with Mathew Boulton, a Birmingham manufacturer, to commercialize his new invention. Henshall's main improvement on the wooden-handled steel worm (spiral) was the insertion of a concave disc between the handle and the worm. The disc serves two purposes: it prevents its user from screwing too deeply into the cork and forces the cork to turn itself once this limit is reached, breaking any seal between the cork and the glass neck. Henshall's corkscrew was so effective that it was widely used for over 100 years.


Cork enthusiasts (heliophiles) claim that although Henshall patented the design, he was probably not the inventor, as similar models had been designed by others decades before.

16.1.2 Le Butler's Friend

It was in 1882 that German inventor Karl F.A. Wienke filed a patent on the
"sommelier's knife,” also known as "butler's friend" and "wine key". This thin, foldable utensil, similar in shape to a pocketknife, gains yet another name, the "sommelier's corkscrew" and uses a stainless steel or hardened steel wick, a bottle opener, a serrated blade, and a single lever. The handle of the butler’s friend uses the side of the wine bottle as a lever, which makes it easy to pull the cork upwards. Although this design has seen many improvements, its basic shape and ease of use has proven itself as it remains extremely popular both with professionals (sommeliers, oenologists, good gourmet restaurants, winemakers) as well as bars, bistros, collectors, and wine lovers.

16.1.3 Beauty and the Beast

Wienke's corkscrew and its various variants until the end of the twentieth
century had one thing in common - their ugliness. Being objects of utility from the industrial era, their lack of grace and elegance have given them an image of a disposable object without soul or emotion.


16.2.1 It's Your Turn 

It is thanks to Guy Vialis, a French sommelier by training, who had taken a professional turn in 1992 by creating Château Laguiole, a brand that relies on the French know-how of the art of cutlery, that the "Art Sommelier" was born. His workshop was in Sauveterre-de-Rouergue and it was there that he imagined original knives, including the famous "Sommelier model. It is these corkscrews, extraordinary art objects, that have ensured him international recognition, because they are destined by their quality and their beauty to open bottles of wine bearing the signature of some of the Best Sommeliers in the world.

16.2.2 "The Sommelier" of Art - Why?

Personalized object, each Art Sommelier is unique. Handmade, each of them has its own story and crater. This makes it an object of the family’s heirlooms, which will pass from hand to hand, from generation to generation. It will tell its story through its patina. And its manufacturing quality will make it timeless (lifetime warranty). It is the art of the corkscrew of authors, made for authors’ wine.


3.1.3 How to Open a Bottle of Wine

with Elegance and Simplicity

Many of you may have opted long ago to abandon the classic corkscrew for one of its complicated, impersonal, torture-like objects, or from science fiction movies. But it must be said: the traditional corkscrew is so simple and effective to use.

I must, therefore, seeing the end of the year holidays fast approaching, give you the simple tricks that will make you a human being without ever more anxiety has the idea of opening cleanly and elegantly, a bottle of wine.

First of all:

Buy yourself a quality "sommelier" corkscrew because a good tool is guaranteed to achieve what you expect from it.

Secondly: Place the bottle vertically on a flat, secure surface (table, kitchen counter). Cut the foil with the knife blade of your corkscrew (see image) and remove it.


Be careful, this is where the secret of success lies:

- Close the blade and completely open the corkscrew worm (it must look like a T)

- Take the corkscrew in the palm of your hand horizontally (palm down) and with THE LEVER TO THE LEFT OF YOUR HAND

- Slide the worm between your forefinger and your middle finger. The tip of the tendril should point downwards.

- Tilt the corkscrew at 45 degrees, paying attention that the first loop/segment of the worm is between the cork and the top of the neck of the bottle. Automatically the tip of the worm is in contact with the middle of the cork. Tilt the corkscrew vertically to 90 degrees. If you have done the exercise well, the tip of the worm is sunken into the middle of the cork.

- While keeping a good pressure on the corkscrew, and you have secured the bottle with your left hand, turn the lever of the corkscrew clockwise. The worm must sink straight 90 degrees into the cap. Turn until only one entire warm’s loop remains visible on the outside of the cap.

- Tilt the corkscrew handle 45 degrees to the right, and with your left hand (if you are right-handed) secure the metal lever firmly in your hand. Affix the lever notch to the neck of the bottle.

-Lift the cap by exerting a 90-degree leverage with the handle of the corkscrew. The cap will lift from 50% to 75%. Do not force. Stop, and screw the rest of the spin loop into the cap and repeat the exercise.

PS: If you have a corkscrew with two notches on the lever, use the notch closest to the handle.

And that's it! You're a pro now. Well done

16.3.0 How to Choose Your Corkscrew 

16.3.1 Form

To choose your "Sommelier, first take the time to evaluate the shape of the design that will be most appropriate for your hand. Your hand should be comfortable with the object. We all have different hands, and sensuality, as well as the relationship with the object must be harmonious and pleasing.

16.3.2 Leverage

Choose your lever:

Each cutlery house has its own design for the notch of the "sommelier," You will find as at Château Laguiole and Perceval, a simple notch. Chez Fontenille Pataud has two notches. Or at Ligne W a double notch articulated.

16.3.3 Budget

Remember that your sommelier is not only a tool, but also an object of art, a very personal soul. So before you let your heart speak, decide on your budget. An art sommelier can range from $100 to over $650.

16.3.4 The Sharing of Emotion and Personality

Now that you've established all the rational standards for your purchase, it's time to move on to the sense of emotion.

Each sommelier will be unique. Source of organic products such as wood, mother-of-pearl, bone, horn, or a mammoth molar. The veins of the wood, the colors of the knotty in the horn or the bone, cannot be reproduced identically. So, take the time to observe, touch and let your senses tell you which one will be for you and represent your own personality.

Mr. B

*Memorandum: My words and opinions in these newsletters are and would always be personal, and I intend to offend. I always accept that others have the full right and duty to challenge me, to argue, and, if it is necessary, excommunicate me from their beliefs (often dull and hollow) because I would act the same way if it were the other way around.