Corkscrews: National characteristics

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About
Until fairly recently, the best corkscrews from the points of view of function, design, and quality of workmanship were made in wine-neutral Britain. The two-lever Italian corkscrew with a gimlet-like worm overcame the erstwhile problem of their short, tight corks.

The Germans rarely used other than the centre worm and often combined this with an inventive use of springs and ball bearings. In 1882, Karl Wienke of Rostock, Mecklenburg, conceived of using a knife-like handle as a lever. Known affectionately as the waiter’s friend, it is still the essential tool of a sommelier worldwide. The development of an articulated lever makes this model even easier to use as the cork is extracted in two stages, keeping it more upright and less likely to break.