A reliable wine opener is a wine lover’s best friend, while a wonky one can ruin that special bottle of Bordeaux you’ve been saving for just the right occasion.
With that in mind, we tested eight top-rated wine openers in three different styles — traditional waiter’s corkscrews, labor-saving lever styles and rechargeable electric models.
Best waiter’s corkscrew: OXO Steel Double Lever Waiter’s Corkscrew
$16.95 at Amazon
If you’re looking for a classic waiter’s corkscrew, we recommend this sturdy OXO Steel Double Lever Waiter’s Corkscrew. Compact and easy to store or carry with you anyplace (picnic, anyone?), this stainless steel corkscrew has a balanced hand feel and a comfortable, nonslip silicone grip. And it has a longer lever than the other waiter’s friend-style openers we looked at, giving you more leverage and an easier time opening tougher bottles.
During our testing, we found that the nonstick screw easily and snugly sunk into the cork, providing a stable base to begin the opening process. The elongated lever provides extra leverage to grip onto the edge of the bottle’s neck to provide the initial pull, and the shorter secondary lever finishes the job with a clean pop, retracting out of the way to give you a clear path for cork removal. This corkscrew can easily grab any cork, even those nested within longer-necked bottles.
Other user-friendly features of this wine opener that we appreciated during testing are its integrated built-in bottle opener, as well as a discrete foil cutting blade that tucks into the base of the opener. At its sub-$20 price point, we stand by this compact, durable wine opener.
Best lever corkscrew: Rabbit Wine Corkscrew With Foil Cutter
$50 at Amazon
The Rabbit Wine Corkscrew, a modern spin on the lever corkscrew style made popular by the original Rabbit, impressed us with its sheer ease of use. It’s easier to use than other lever-style openers and doesn’t require as much care in placement as “wing” style lever-operated cork pullers. Rabbit’s Wine Corkscrew makes easy work of dislodging a cork with a simple one-two punch mechanism — you lock the opener onto the bottle’s neck, pull the handle and that’s it. The dual levers adhere firmly to the bottle neck, with the longer lever dislodging the cork and the shorter lever effectively dismantling the cork to open the bottle in seconds. There was no setup or assembly required prior to use, and the silicone-lined exterior of this opener felt immediately comfortable in-hand upon unboxing.
Lever-style wine openers are meant to be stable and easy to use, and the Rabbit satisfies this most important requirement. During our testing, we found that the Rabbit effectively latched onto the bottle neck, allowing us to then pull the lever up and then down (in that order) to engage and then release the wine cork seamlessly and without any residual damage to the cork.
Also of note: The Rabbit got the cork out of our bottle in three seconds, as advertised.
If you’re looking for a foolproof lever-style wine opener without any manual stress or labor, consider the Rabbit. This also makes for one hell of a gift for that wine lover in your life.
Best electric wine opener: Ozeri Nouveaux II Electric Wine Opener
$24.16 at Amazon
We tested several electric wine opener models and found the Ozeri Nouveaux II Electric Wine Opener to be the most stable, which let us open bottles more quickly and easily. Included with this model is a charging station, wine pourer, stopper and built-in foil cutter, but the opener itself is intuitive and easy to operate. Conversely, we found the Oster Electric Wine Opener to be a bit clunky, heavy and hard to grip firmly in the hand, which impacted our ability to properly vertically align and stabilize the opener above the bottle neck.
As the Ozeri owner’s manual indicates, all you need to do is position the opener directly above the bottle to make sure it’s centered on the cork. From there all we had to do was hit the LED-lit blue “down” button to activate the opening process and let this electric wine opener do its thing.
Once the cork was effectively dislodged, a simple push of the LED-lit “up” button released the cork back into its original condition. The entire process took around seven seconds, and this electric wine opener actually made opening a bottle of wine a bit more fun.
At under $20, we think the Ozeri Electric Wine Opener would make a great gift for the wine lover in your life, and we also think it deserves a spot in your home wine bar setup.
How to choose a wine opener
There are countless varieties of wine opening tools, with widely different designs and functionality. Which one you choose comes down to how much wine you drink (and thus how often you’re likely to use it), how comfortable and experienced you are with opening bottles and how easy it is to store. There are good options for any budget regardless of which type of opener you use.
Waiter’s friend-style wine keys or manual openers are compact and easy to store, can be easily transported and are the most budget-friendly option. For the everyday wine drinker, a manual wine opener will get the job done on a tighter budget, and they’re inexpensive enough to take along with you and not worry too much about. Using one accurately requires a little bit of work and experience, which someone in this category is likely to have. And for those really picky about their vintages, manual wine openers also provide the most intimate experience of opening a bottle of wine, since you’re in close contact with the cork and can immediately tell if it’s damaged or might require extra effort to remove.
If you’re looking for a slightly smoother and simpler experience, a lever-style wine opener gives you more leverage and requires less hand and arm strength to use. Thus, a lever-style opener might suit someone who is starting to collect wine and open more than two bottles per week, or it might appeal to the infrequent wine drinker who doesn’t open bottles often and hasn’t developed the muscle memory to use a waiter’s friend accurately. A lever-style device does take a bit more storage space, so you’d want to factor that in, but it’s always ready to go, unlike an electric wine opener.
Electric wine openers take the guesswork out of opening a nicer bottle of wine. If you’re a collector or you’re gifting a wine collector, a more expensive yet reliable electric wine opener is the best option. While electric openers require a charge, a simple press of a button is all that’s required physically to uncork a nicer bottle you’ve been saving.
Some models include additional bells and whistles like foil cutters, pour spouts, vacuum stoppers and advanced wine preservation systems. In the manual wine corkscrew category, for example, there are single-lever as well as double-lever models, the latter commonly referred to as the classic waiter’s friend. As rechargeable batteries have made their way into tools in every category, the electric wine opener has become much more popular in recent years, with brands like Oster and Ozeri introducing more luxe models, which include charging stations, easy-to-read LED buttons and cordless functionality.
How we tested
To ensure consistency in our testing, we used a case of white wines, in identical 750-milliliter glass bottles with natural corks. Over the course of one week of testing, we paired each bottle of wine with one wine opener, assessing the below factors.
In our test, we focused on three main criteria categories:
- Ease of use: Is the model ergonomically sound? Does it feel comfortable in the hand? How difficult is the setup process?
- Damage to cork: Did the wine opener damage the cork during the opening process?
- Efficiency: How long does the wine opener take to effectively open a bottle of wine? How effectively did the opener work overall, considering effort and pressure involved?
During testing, we spent time with each wine opener individually, from initial setup, to hand feel, ergonomics and weight, through uncorking performance and efficiency. We scoured owner’s manuals and detailed instructions, we took time to charge any electric models before use and we cross-checked brand video tutorials when necessary to ensure we were operating each model correctly.
For initial impressions after unboxing, we paid close attention to simplicity of design as well as other included features, tools and accessories. Was there any assembly required before using the wine opener? For the manual corkscrews, was a built-in foil cutter tucked into the body of the opener? For the electric models, was a full charge required prior to use? We took note of any obstacles or setbacks during these initial setup steps.
Our frontrunners required little to no setup prior to use, and each model included additional helpful tools to aid with the opening process, like foil cutters or replacement corkscrews.
For hand feel, ergonomics and weight, we focused entirely on the physical experience of each wine opener in-hand. Did the model fit comfortably in our hands? If the model was slightly heavier, did the opener still feel balanced when used to open a bottle of wine? A key component to the efficiency of most electric wine openers, for example, is the angle at which the opener is held above the bottle neck. Thus, in our testing, we noted how easy or difficult it was to hold the electric wine opener at a perfectly straight angle above the bottle, assessing the opener’s overall stability. For the manual corkscrews, we also assessed stability through the lens of weight, balance and grip.
During the actual uncorking process, we noted how smoothly each wine opener worked to seamlessly dislodge the cork. While some manual or pronged wine keys required a bit of muscle to wedge the corkscrew into the cork, we found that a few lever-style and electric wine opener models also required an equal amount of muscle to operate, which we took into account.
Last, but certainly not least, we took into account the pleasure of use in addition to each opener’s efficiency. A few of these models dislodged the wine cork not just with ease but also with a satisfying pop, click or hiss, which enticed us to return to said model for the next bottle of wine we open.
Other wine openers we tested
$19.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond
In comparison to the Ozeri Electric Wine Opener, we found the Oster Cordless Electric Wine Opener felt less stable in-hand. While we dug the cordless functionality, this electric wine opener rocked and rattled around a bit too much during initial positioning to provide a stable seal, which ultimately amounted to this wine opener ineffectively dislodging the cork.
$59 at Amazon
With a household kitchen name like Le Creuset, we initially trusted this manual wine corkscrew to deliver. While this model worked to effectively dislodge the cork, we found the OXO Double Lever to be more comfortable and sturdy in-hand.
Slim in profile and easier to transport, the Le Creuset Waiter’s Friend certainly does the job, but we found the OXO model to work just a bit more efficiently and comfortably.
$39.99 at Amazon
Similar to the Rabbit model we previously reviewed, the OXO Steel Vertical Lever Corkscrew operates in the same lever-controlled style. During testing, we found this OXO model to not provide as tight a seal as the Rabbit model, which ultimately made for a slightly shaky foundation when aligning the opener above the bottle neck.
After attempting to align this unit with the bottle neck several times without a stable seal, we ultimately favored the Rabbit for its foolproof vertical alignment.
$13.99 at Amazon
This model has been highly praised among Amazon reviewers for its simplicity as an “oldie but a goodie.” While we agree this wine opener technically works at effectively uncorking a bottle of wine, we felt its fold-down wings and slightly more cumbersome profile actually made the wine opening process feel a bit too cumbersome in comparison to a simple wine key, which accomplishes the same task in less steps.
It’s an oldie, for sure, but not necessarily a goodie.
$155 $145 at Amazon
The Durand is another model that has received rave reviews and appeared to stand the test of time, but in our experience using it, it was subpar. Upon initial insertion of the dual prongs into the cork, we found the Durand to be difficult to grip in order to effectively pull out the wine cork.
At $145, we just simply think your dollars could be more wisely spent on other wine openers and accessories that don’t require as much maneuvering.
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