A Good Screw: 5 Secrets YOU Should Know!
by Alexis Beltrami

Ah, the pleasure of a good screw! Easing a reluctant cork out of its bottle need not be an exercise in frustration and embarrassment. It's a matter of knowing the moves and having a good tool.

1. First, know the basic principles. You'll have to strip the protective foil from the top of the bottle; this may be done with a knife (see #3) or, more cleanly, with a foil cutter, a handy little $8 device. Don't be a sloppy Joe and try to use the tip of the corkscrew.

2. Choose your tool. Are you the hands-on type, who likes to work it slowly? The waiters keywaiter's key is for you. Or are you the efficient type, who likes a quickie? You'll love an Uncorking Machine. But the smooth operator will prefer the Screwpull. No matter what kind of corkscrew you choose, the worm (see diagram) should be long and a true coil-not merely a threaded bore, which is liable to strip the cork. Ouch! Note: Teflon-coated coils will aid in easier penetration.

3. Studs: The waiter's key is for the dedicated wine lover-it requires lots of practice and patience, but is the most romantic way to get the job done. Resembling a pocket knife, the waiter's key unfolds to reveal a small blade for cutting the foil (pros know how to remove the capsule in one swift circular cut), a worm, and a notched metal foot. You insert the tip of the worm into the cork at an angle and slightly off-center, then twist it into the cork, leaving a bit of coil exposed at the top. Then fit the foot onto the lip of the bottle and lift up on the handle, pressing down on the foot for leverage. The cork will be inexorably drawn out. Try not to pop at the end and splatter your wine.

4. Gearheads: If you just want to get the job done, and don't mind paying for it, there are a number of heavy-duty tools that will yank out a cork with one swift pull on a lever. Some, like the Professional Uncorking Machine, clamp onto a bar or table and are massive. Others, like the various Screwpull Lever models, are handheld. Most are well over $100.

5. Slicksters: Your secret weapon is the $20 Screwpull model, which has two plastic legs that straddle the bottle neck, a very long coated worm, and a small handle. You place the legs over the neck and simply turn the handle, and the cork climbs right up the worm, in a synchronized rhythm. The Screwpull is extremely easy, gentle, and failproof, even on crumbly old corks.

Finally, if you're into kink, there are any number of bizarre devices out there, like the one that pumps air into the bottle via a long needle, causing the cork to pop out from below. But we won't go there.

Restaurant Professionals:
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