Monday, August 31, 2009

Why Wine: The Corkscrew pt. 1

This is a re-post from November, 2008. This is part 1 of 2.
Will post part 2 tomorrow (corkscrew types)


Wine bottle openers or corkscrews are gadgets used to remove corks from the neck of wine bottles. Gun manufacturers in 17th century England, sold an accessory with their muskets and pistols called a bullet removing "worm". It was a long spiraled piece of metal that could remove unspent charges from the barrel of their weapon.

Corks in that century, were used to seal barrels of beer and cider. The corks were long enough to grasp with their fingers. This allowed the user to open and reseal the cask as needed. In the 18th century, wineries discovered that by using bottles and putting the entire cork into the neck of the wine bottle to prevent air from entering the bottle, wine could be kept for longer periods of time. This lead to the ability to "age wine" and transport the wine long distances.

The bullet removing worm was used to remove the cork and became known as a corkscrew. Not only did this give the gun manufactures a sideline which became very profitable, but it allowed the wine industry to increase dramatically. The aging of the wine created much better tasting wines. This lead to a higher demand for these wines, which lead to more production of wine and higher prices for the "aged wine".

Today, wine bottle openers come in all shapes and sizes from the basic corkscrew to the complicated carbon dioxide driven openers. Simple wine bottle openers cost about $2.00. The professional wine bottle openers that restaurants, bars and wineries use, can cost $2,500 or more.


The Wine Whore said...

Very cool! File this one under stuff often overlooked but deserving attention.

What kind of corkscrew do you use at home?

Just had a nice bottle of Marlestone from Clos du Bois and thought of you. Can't wait for our Heron Hill tasting!


joeshico said...

Love the Marlstone, as you know!
I have always used the winged or butterfly corkscrew until this year.
Was sent a real nice sommelier knife with an order from Damiani. Got use to using it and now use nothing else. I have 2 bottles of the Blaufrankisch and I'm tempted to open one before the 6th, but I'll hold off till then.