When it comes to simplicity, reviewers consistently recommend lever-style wine openers. The Le Creuset Screwpull Lever Model Elegance (*Est. $100) gets the best reviews, but we also found favorable coverage of the Vacu Vin Corkscrew Winemaster (*Est. $40), another lever wine opener that's far less expensive than the Screwpull Elegance.
Electric wine openers, meanwhile, are a good option for people who have limited strength or mobility and are also useful at parties (where you might need to open a lot of bottles quickly). The Oster Inspire (*Est. $20) is recommended by two highly rated sources as an easy-to-use electric wine opener. It also receives an extremely high average rating from nearly 400 users at Amazon.com. Owners praise the Oster Inspire as easy to use, especially for people with limited use of their hands, and they love the sleek design. Some users complain that the Oster stopped working after a few weeks or months, and a handful say it doesn't work well with synthetic corks. However, the vast majority of reviews we read suggest that owners are quite satisfied. The Waring Pro Professional Cordless (*Est. $40) wine opener also is recommended by one leading cooking publication as excellent and more stable and less noisy than the Oster Inspire. There are just a handful of user reviews for the Waring electric wine opener at Amazon.com, the majority of which give it a high average rating.
While auger-type corkscrews (which use a metal spiral worm) are generally simple to use and inexpensive, experts say you should avoid those in which the metal spiral completes itself with a point in the center of the turning radius. Although it's harder to calculate where to begin with a corkscrew that has an off-center tip, an off-center starting point allows the rest of the spiral to follow the tip through the cork. A spiral worm that ends with the tip at dead center means you are coring the center of the cork and the spiral worm is perforating around that. You are essentially drilling out the center of the cork, greatly increasing the chance it will tear when you try to pull it out.
There are many different types of corkscrews on the market, but we found only one reviewer who enthusiastically recommends air-pump cork extractors. This type of wine opener uses a propellant to blast gas through the cork and into the bottle. The increased pressure forces the cork out. While some reviewers like the novelty of pump wine openers, others point out that they aren't that efficient. Other reviewers note that because of the force with which the cork can pop out, you won't want to use a pump wine opener around kids or pets, and experts caution that air-pump models should not be used with sparkling wines, odd-shaped bottles, damaged bottles or partly full bottles.
Pump wine openers further require that you push a hollow needle through the cork -- an action that takes patience and practice. One reviewer mentions getting sprayed with wine when trying to remove the cork from the needle. Manuals for some pump wine openers also warn you to wrap the bottle in cloth in case the bottle explodes. Good Housekeeping goes as far as to say that these types of wine openers are dangerous and warns readers to steer clear. To be fair, however, ConsumerReports.org doesn't have a problem with bottles exploding during their trials. Most reviewers say pump wine openers are just a lot more work than other types.
Reviewers say the following about shopping for a wine opener or corkscrew: