Corkscrews come in many shapes and styles, but most fit into one of a few general types, based on their design. Prices can range from just a few dollars to hundreds of dollars.
This is a spiral or screw-shaped wire, called the “worm” that is attached to a handle. The spiral screw is placed against the top of the cork and the handle is turned, driving the screw into the cork. Once the spiral is into the cork, grip the wine bottle and the handle and pull it out. There is nothing in this design to provide leverage, and so these can be difficult to use.
This is also called the Sommelier corkscrew or the bartender’s corkscrew and is the type most often used in restaurants. This corkscrew is preferred by most waiters because of it's slim design and it is comfortable to carry so the servers can put it into their pocket or apron without fear of getting poked. The worm (screw) and the small knife are safely tucked away. The advantage of the waiter's corkscrew is it's slim design and it contains a knife to remove foil on bottle. It’s a little tricky to use, but once you've got it mastered, it’s fast and efficient and gives you that professional look. The disadvantage of this corkscrew is that it requires practice to become proficient at using it.
The Twisting Pull Cork
This corkscrew has a circular rim that you place over the lip of the bottle. This centers the worm over the cork. You then begin twisting the handle on the corkscrew. When the worm has been twisted into the cork, the corkscrew is braced against the bottle and the cork begins to emerge from the bottle as you twist. It is very reliable and fairly inexpensive. The worm is the most important part of this corkscrew. The only disadvantage of these corkscrews are that they require continuous turning.
Also called the butterfly corkscrew, this device is named for the two handles that rise as the worm is driven into the cork. These corkscrews have a circular rim that is placed over the lip of the bottle. As you turn the corkscrew, the wings lift higher and higher. When you think you have drilled the worm into the corkscrew far enough, grasp the wings and slowly bring them toward the bottle. This action causes the cork to pull out of the bottle. These corkscrews are usually reliable unless the worm is not far enough into the cork. If the worm goes past the bottom of the cork, cork fragments get into the wine. Cheap models with weak worms will not lift the cork out of the bottle.
Two-pronged or Ah So type
These are not exactly corkscrews because they do not have a worm that you screw into the cork. Instead, you have two slim metal prongs that you enter into opposite sides of the cork in the bottle. One prong is a little longer than the other and that is the side you enter into the bottle first. You rock the device back and forth slightly until the prongs are fully entered. Then you gently pull up with a little twist, or rocking motion. Important features of this corkscrew are the slim design and the fact that it puts no hole into the cork and therefore no cork fragments fall into the wine. This device works well with an aged bottle of wine whose cork has deteriorated. This type of corkscrew is somewhat hard to use and if done incorrectly, you can possibly damage the prongs by bending them out of shape.
Lever Style Corkscrew
Sometimes called “The Rabbit” after the brand name of the most-well known lever corkscrew. These corkscrews are considered the easiest to use. Simply clamp it to the bottle, push down on the lever, then pull up on the lever, and the cork comes out. These are more expensive than most other types of corkscrews, but if opening the bottle is not your favorite task, then investing in one can be worth it.
Air Pump Corkscrew
This works on the principle of forcing air between the space in the bottle of wine between the cork and the wine. As you pump the device, air pressure forces the cork out of the bottle. It requires pumping action to force air and some wine experts believe that forcing air into the wine bottle is not good for the wine.
More and more producers are turning to screw caps for bottles of wine that do not require aging protecting their fine wines. In the past screw caps were mainly used for cheap supermarket wines. But in recent years many top-quality winemakers have become convinced that screw caps actually protect wine better and preserve its true flavor longer than cork. There are many studies that support this idea.
The main problem with using cork is cork taint caused by 2,4,6-trichloranisole (or TCA), a compound which develops in a small percentage of all corks produced. TCA ruins the taste of wine, adding a distinctive musty aroma of wet newspapers or cardboard. This is known as "corked" wine. TCA affects 5% or more of all bottled wine. The casual drinker may not always recognize the "off" taste. Nobody quite knows how TCA gets into corks, or why it chooses one cork and not another.