Smooth wine uncorking is a skill that every wine drinker should master. It is a short and relatively simple process that requires only one tool and usually just a moderate amount of upper-body strength.

At the time of publication, corkscrews range in price from a few dollars to more than $20 for a high-end variety. However, you don’t need a pricey gadget to get the job done. Types of corkscrews include:

  • Basic corkscrew
  • Waiter’s corkscrew
  • Wing corkscrew (also called butterfly or double-action corkscrew)
  • Double-prong corkscrew
  • Lever corkscrew

A basic corkscrew is the most difficult to use and requires the most elbow grease. It consists of a handle with a screw attached, forming the shape of a “T”. A waiter’s corkscrew resembles a basic corkscrew but also features a lever for ease of use and often a miniature serrated knife. A wing corkscrew is best for those with little upper-body strength, as the user simply presses down on the wings to remove the cork. Perhaps the most difficult to use, a double-prong corkscrew relies on the user’s brute strength to pull the cork straight out. The lever corkscrew requires the least effort of all; just clamp it onto the bottle and press down.

Step 1: Remove the Foil

Use a serrated knife to remove the foil before opening the wine. Hold the wine bottle steady, then cut in a circular motion around the notched area near the top of the bottle. Once the foil is broken, use the knife to scrape upward and pull the foil off.

Step 2: Insert the Corkscrew

Insert a basic, waiter’s or wing corkscrew by placing the tip of the screw just beside the center of the cork and twisting until there is only one turn remaining.

Insert a double-prong corkscrew by pushing the longer prong down in between the cork and the bottle. Once the shorter prong is close enough, push it down in between the cork and bottle on the opposite side.

Use a lever corkscrew by following the product’s instructions, which differ by manufacturer. Typically, you simply attach the top of the bottle to the device and pull the attached lever to force the screw down into the cork.

Step 3: Remove the Cork

Pull on the attached handle to remove a basic corkscrew once it is inserted.

Remove a cork with a waiter’s corkscrew by folding down the hinged lever until the notched portion presses against the lip of the bottle. Use the handle to pull the corkscrew (and cork) up until it is removable with just your fingers.

Remove a wing corkscrew by pressing down on the device’s two wings. The cork rises as you do so.

Twist and pull up to remove a double-prong corkscrew.

Follow product instructions to remove the cork with a lever corkscrew. Typically, you simply pull up on the attached lever to remove the cork.