Wine Accessories: The Fine Art of the Corkscrew

PitPend_screw We stayed at the Inn of Occidental for Barrel Tasting last March. The decor in our room; The “Wine Room,” included a shadow box with various corkscrews. One of the most interesting of all of the wine accessories, the corkscrew gives it’s manufacturer the opportunity to get creative. And of all the corkscrews available, we’ve found the easiest to use is the sommelier tool, also known as the “waiter’s friend.”

Joe started a collection of sommelier (or waiter’s) tools on our first trip to Wine County. We try to get one from every winery we visit, if they have them for sale.

Joe's Collection of Cork Screws
Joe's Collection of Cork Screws
Of all the corkscrews we’ve tried, the double-hinged model seems to be the easiest and most efficient to use. Since most of them are pretty small, it’s easy to throw one in the glove compartment, or a handbag for those spur-of-the-moment opportunities to enjoy a bottle of wine.

While looking for images of sommelier tools, I came upon some interesting specimens; some that look particularly sinister (above) which reminded me of the first horror movie I ever saw, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum, starring Vincent Price. So I started thinking; who invented the corkscrew or waiter’s tool, and when? Being the geek that I am, I searched the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, to find the inventor of the lever-style corkscrew we use to open wine today.

Corkscrew_patent2 This is a picture of the drawing provided with the American patent (No. 283,731) granted on August 21, 1883 to Carl F. A. Weinke. Weinke was granted a patent in his own country of Germany for the Lever Corkscrew (DRP 20815) on May 26, 1882. He was granted a British patent (Improvement in Lever Corkscrews No. 2,022) on April 20, 1883 and a French patent (No. 155314) on May 7, 1883. A rather quick process. According to a former law professor who now works for the U.S. Patent & Trademark office, the process to obtain a patent takes a good deal longer today.

The History of the Corkscrew

No one really knows the creator of the very first corkscrew, but it is thought to have originated in the 17th Century. Its original design may have been derived from a “gun worm,” a tool with a single or double spiral end fitting used to clean or remove unspent charges from a musket barrel. According to the Oxford Companion to Wine,

The corkscrew is possibly an English invention, due to the tradition of beer and cider, and Treatise on Cider by John Worlidge in 1676 describes “binning of tightly corked cider bottles on their sides”, although the earliest reference to a corkscrew is, “steel worm used for the drawing of Corks out of Bottles” from 1681.

The English were the first to seal wine bottles, using cork imported from Spain or Portugal. But wine bottles were the first time corks were used as a seal. Before WWII, all kinds of substances were often stored in corked containers: beer, medicine, cosmetics and food.

Free Corkscrew Collection Posters

Favre & Associates, a graphic design firm in Argentina has 10 different posters of corkscrew collections that can be printed free from their website. Posters 9 and 10 are very high resolution 1.5 MB files. Posters 3 through 8 are less than .5 MG in size. Poster 2 is about .8 MG. All they ask is that you actually print it from their site.

You can copy and to print the posters without any cost. We request to conserve the author’s name. In the case of links we request that the link is directed toward this website so that the posters is discharged from here.

These posters has been carried out so that our clients and the public in general can enjoy the same ones. We hope are of their pleasure.

It takes a little maneuvering but most of the posters are 22 cm x 28 cm and can be printed onto 8.5″ x 11″ paper. The larger ones are 42.5 cm x 53.5 cm and can be printed onto tabloid size paper. Of course using a large format printer or plotter would probably work best.
Corkscrews on Parade

  • In August 2006 the University of California, Berkeley displayed a 1,500-item corkscrew collection at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology in Kroeber Hall, on the UC campus.
  • Since July 2006, the Montecalvo Versiggia near Pavia, Italy is displaying a collection of over 200 different types of corkscrews.
  • The Greystone campus of the Culinary Institute of America has over 500 corkscrews on display in St. Helena, California. The collection was started in 1949 by Brother Timothy, a “pioneering winemaker” for the Christan Brothers Winery.
  • The Virtual Corkscrew Museum offers a wealth of information about corkscrews, including books, stories, pictures, history and links to auctions for corkscrews on the secondary market.
  • At least one former United States President has had his likeness fashioned into a corkscrew. It’s rather naughty, so you can google that for yourself.
  • So there you have it. More than you ever wanted to know about the corkscrew, but were afraid to ask!


    WineWonkette, square~ Amy Corron Power,
    aka WineWonkette

    Posted in Education, Featured, Posts

    Amy Corron Power View posts by Amy Corron Power

    A licensed attorney, Amy is a wine-lover, foodie, photographer, political junkie and award-winning author who writes about Wine, Food, Beer & Spirits. As Managing Editor & Tasting Director for Another Wine Blog, she travels all over the world's wine regions to share her experiences with her readers and legions of twitter, Instagram and Facebook friends and fans. Amy holds certifications through the International Sommelier Guild, and is also certified, with honors, as a California Wine Appellation Specialist (CWAS). She is a member of the Guild of Sommeliers, The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas and regularly attends Houston Sommelier Association events. Amy is also a contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books, and was most recently published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Gratitude.
    Scroll to top