Quit Screwing Around

One of the things that makes me crazy is when people use the wrong tool for any job where the right tool is available. My wife has heard me grouse about this about a billion times over the years; sometimes I think she preps food with the wrong knife just to bug me. Like most other things in her life, she is very good at that, too.

One of the most qualified applicants for admission to the University of Wrong Tools for The Right Job is the corkscrew. Kitchen drawers around the world are littered with bits of plastic and metal, mostly curved and angled in the right places, that can open wine bottles. But not easily or very well. And we all know what I’m talking about. Those things that look like corkscrews but are as close to being an effective tool as a pond is to being an ocean. Not close at all.

We have those unwieldy things with the two arms that look like they were invented by DaVinci’s stupid twin brother. Useless. Those little plastic tubes that pull apart and reconnect to form a T and are a bit too small for a baby’s hand? Forget ‘em.  The battery-operated gizmos that seem like a great gift idea until you actually want to get inside a wine bottle? It turns out, then, that they’re actually not a great idea. Regift!

There are few other members of this motley fraternity that manage to sneak into the useful category but only barely.  First, we have the Ah So, seen to the left here, which is great to have on hand if you’re stuck with a soggy or crumbling cork, or if you just like making things more difficult for yourself. They work pretty well…occasionally. Ah So, as in “ah, so this is what frustration and failure feel like.” Also, and I’ll admit to owning one of these, the various takes on the inconic Rabbit, which, while useful, seem to confuse more people than they help. I don’t have an engineering degree and I can use one, yet I’ve seen more than one avid (read: desperate) wine lover flail about when this contraption fails to bring the necessary, immediate relief.

If you’ve got decent upper body strength the old fashioned corkscrew can do the trick. A simple wooden or bone handle and a steel screw of various lengths. Into the cork and out of the bottle. Simple, right? Sure, unless you have to wedge the bottle between your legs or feet to get adequate leverage, all the while risking the juice and sediment bath that is sure to ensue. These simple tools with their small mechanical advantage are great to have for emergencies, but on the wine tool team they are clearly third-string.

Do yourself a favor (and me, in case I show up at your house some day and need to open a bottle of wine): if you have a corkscrew, any corkscrew in your house, garage, picnic basket, shaving kit (am I the only one?) utility belt (yeah, that means you Batman), rucksack, carpetbag, or purse, and it doesn’t look like the one at the top of the page, throw it out and buy one that does. Just do it. Now, maybe we can quit screwing around and start using the right tool for the right job.

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