How To Open a Bottle of Wine Using a Wine Key Corkscrew

updated Jun 8, 2019
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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

It seems elementary: buy wine, pull out cork. But somewhere in the middle there, things can get a little…dicey. Especially if you find yourself in a rental cabin or on a picnic without the luxury of a fancy, state-of-the-art corkscrew.

A wine key corkscrew is the simplest and most basic way to open a bottle of wine — and I would argue, the most elegant. It is, after all, what waiters and sommeliers use! A few firm twists, a flick of the wrist and Pop! Out comes the cork.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

The first step to using this little gadget is understanding its anatomy. All its parts tuck into the handle just like a Swiss army knife. Unfold it and you’ll see an arm with one or more notches, usually made of metal, that attaches to the handle at the hinge. Sandwiched between this arm and the handle on a hinge of its own is the corkscrew itself (also called the “worm”). Many wine keys also have a little blade embedded in the handle that can be used to remove the foil covering the cork.

Once you drill the corkscrew into the cork, that notched metal arm is what you use to anchor the corkscrew and pull out the cork. It acts as a fulcrum — as you pull up on the handle, you also exert force down on the arm, which allows you to draw the cork out of the bottle. And to think, you thought you’d never find a real world use for high school physics! (Apologies to Mr. Holbrook.)

This is definitely one of those things that’s easier shown than said — and easier to do than to show. Take a look through our gallery and then give it a try for yourself!

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A waiter’s corkscrew is the simplest and most basic way to open a bottle of wine.

How To Open a Bottle of Wine Using a Wine Key Corkscrew

What You Need

1 bottle wine

Waiter’s double-hinged corkscrew


  1. Remove the foil: Unfold the little knife embedded in the handle of the corkscrew. Cut all the way around the foil covering the corkscrew, placing the knife just slightly below the lip. (If your corkscrew doesn’t have a knife, you can use the sharp tip of the corkscrew.) Tear the foil away.
  2. Unfold the corkscrew: Unfold the corkscrew (a.k.a. “worm”) from the handle; the corkscrew should form a “T” with the handle on one side and the shorter, notched portion on the other.
  3. Insert the corkscrew into the cork: Set the tip of the corkscrew in the middle of the cork and gently screw downward, using the handle and the hinged portion to twist. Stop when the corkscrew feels secure.
  4. Fold the short, notched arm of the corkscrew down: With the “worm” of the corkscrew still firmly imbedded in the cork, fold the short, notched arm downward. You’ll see one or two notched ledges in this section — rest the one closest to the hinge on the lip of the wine bottle.
  5. Lift the corkscrew up: Lift up on the handle, gently easing the cork out of the corkscrew as far as you can. The notched ledge resting on the bottle will act as a fulcrum, letting you draw the cork out easily and cleanly.
  6. Reposition the notched portion: If your corkscrew has a second notched ledge, reposition to the second ledge once you’ve pulled the cork as out as far as you can. Lift up on the handle again to pull the cork further out.
  7. Remove the cork from the bottle: This should get you 90% of the way to removing the cork; just a bit of the cork will still be lodged in the bottle. Unfold the hinged arm to form a “T” again, and draw the cork the rest of the way out. You may need to twist the cork a little to wiggle it all the way out.
(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

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