Many wine aficionados say they prefer a simple corkscrew to a lever-style or electric wine bottle opener. Corkscrews do have a lot going for them: First, they're compact -- they don't require the amount of drawer space that you'll need for a bulkier lever-style opener, and you won't need to leave them out on the counter like an electric opener. For that reason, they also travel well. Second, they give a skilled user a greater amount of control, which may be of greater concern with older, more finicky corks (or tricky synthetic ones). Finally, they're often the most inexpensive kind of wine opener you can buy.
Of course, on the flip side, corkscrews can have a long learning curve. If you're only an occasional wine drinker, trying to properly use a traditional corkscrew may be a frustrating process. Also, corkscrews require the greatest amount of strength and dexterity for proper use.
Reviewers say you can't go wrong with the double-hinged True Fabrications Truetap (Est. $9), a waiter-style corkscrew that is inexpensive and solidly constructed, too. A very close knockoff of a more expensive corkscrew called the Pulltap, the Truetap is just 3 inches long and weighs roughly 4 ounces, making it easy to hold in your palm or tote in a pocket or a purse. The stainless steel finish helps it blend well in any setting, though you can also purchase Truetaps with different colored handles, including red, blue and pink.
The Truetap performs well in expert tests. Nick Guy of TheSweetHome.com says the double hinge provides ample leverage to open each bottle, and the worm doesn't break any corks. Owners, many of them professional servers who open hundreds of wine bottles, echo these conclusions, saying it handles both natural and synthetic corks quickly without any problems. Most say the integrated beer bottle opener and serrated foil cutter also do their jobs reliably, though a few reviewers wish for a bigger blade on the foil cutter.
As for ease of use, owners say the Truetap's double hinge makes opening bottles much less of a struggle than with other types of corkscrews that require more muscle and pose a greater risk of breaking corks. Though some say there is a bit of a learning curve, the worm inserts easily into the corks and rarely gets stuck, owners say. A few reviewers report stiff hinges at first, but say they loosened with time. Maggie Hoffman of SeriousEats.com says the worm's black coating started to rub off after 10 bottles, while a few owners say it bent or broke after little usage. The Truetap comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Many people prefer a winged corkscrew to a waiter-style corkscrew because they don't require as much finesse to use. If you're among them, many reviewers like the Precision Kitchenware Luxury Corkscrew and Wine Stopper Set (Est. $13). The chrome-plated unit has a classic look that will blend in most settings. It also has an integrated bottle opener at the top. As the name suggests, it comes with a wine stopper, but not a foil cutter.
The Luxury Corkscrew garners mixed reviews for performance (though in fairness, all winged corkscrews seem to get mixed reviews). Reviewers say it handles natural and synthetic corks equally well, and they say the bottle opener does its job reliably. However, while most say it does just fine removing corks, a few owners say the worm isn't quite long enough and stops short of pulling the cork all the way out. For some, this is a mere annoyance, but others say it raises the risk that they'll end up breaking the cork and fishing pieces out of their wine.
Owners are happier with ease of use, which is where winged corkscrews shine: They like how easy it is to center the worm, raise the wings and drill down, then push them down to remove the cork. Durability, however, is iffier. There are a fair amount of complaints about a plastic ring in the base of the unit popping off with normal use; a few owners even report bent metal or snapped levers. However, the unit does come with a lifetime guarantee, and the company actively responds to reviewers' comments and complaints on Amazon.