How to Use a Waiter’s Style Corkscrew

How to Use a Waiter’s Style Corkscrew

Jump To: Step-by-Step Instructions | Video

The waiter’s style corkscrew is the most traditional wine opener, largely preferred by restaurant and hospitality professionals. Though small in size, its simple design makes this gadget deceivingly complex for first-timers to use! 

It may take some practice to use the waiter’s style corkscrew with flourish and finesse; but don’t be discouraged. Once you have the basics down, you’ll understand why this tool is a must-have for your home bar!

How to Open Wine with a Waiter’s Style Corkscrew

  1. Remove the foil capsule covering the top of the wine bottle. If using your corkscrew’s built-in knife:
    • Put your thumb or index finger at the back of the blade
    • Place the knife just below the lip, and slice horizontally halfway around the neck of the bottle
    • Using the same starting point, cut the other half of the foil in the opposite direction
    • Make a final, vertical cut up across the protruding lip to the top of the bottle
    • Tuck the blade back into the corkscrew
    • Pull away the foil capsule to expose the cork

  2. Open the corkscrew so that it makes a T-shape by lifting the double-hinged piece and pulling out the worm

  3. Grip the corkscrew by the top of the T, with the worm pointing down between your fingers

  4. Pierce the center of the cork with the tip of the worm

  5. Apply pressure as you twist the corkscrew counter-clockwise down into the cork

  6. Continue turning until at least ¾ of the corkscrew is inserted in the cork

  7. Bend the hinge so that the curved notch sits on the lip of the bottle

  8. Hold the notch against the bottle lip for leverage with one hand; with the other, pull the corkscrew upwards

  9. If using a two-step waiter’s key, switch to the second notch and finish pulling the cork out of the bottle

  10. Twist the cork off the worm by hand

  11. Drink and enjoy!

How-to Video Tutorial & Transcript

Hi, I’m Marshall Tilden with The Wine Enthusiast, and today we’re gonna learn how to use a waiter’s style corkscrew. These corkscrews are really the most traditional way to open a bottle of wine. They come in various [styles], makes and quality levels, but they all have basically the same parts in order to open the bottle: They’re all gonna have the hinge at the top; they’ll have

the worm—or the spiral—which will drill into the cork; and the blade, which is going to help remove [the foil] off the top of the bottle. So, let’s see how they work! 

First step is going to be to take the top of the foil off. There’s a couple of notches on the bottles where the cork goes in, and some different schools of thought [on where to cut the foil]. You’re going to put your pointer finger behind the blade here for a little bit of guidance. I go under the first notch here, and you really should [also]. The reason is: If you go off the top notch—if there’s some foil that frays, which can happen when you cut it off and you’re pouring the wine out—and it touches the foil, it can kind of taint the wine. So you just take the foil cutter and put it up to that top notch. Go around a few times, once or twice, and the foil comes right off. 

Put the blade away, making sure not to hurt yourself, and pull out the spiral part of the corkscrew. You know, hold the bottle firmly. Use your middle finger here to kinda guide the worm into the bottle and get it lined up so it goes right into the middle. Once it’s in there, start drilling down. 

You’ll just simply turn the corkscrew down… You don’t want to go all the way down, maybe about three-quarters of the way, and once you’ve done so—see the hinge, a lot of times, will have a couple of notches. You might not be able to get to the first notch—or you may, and that helps you out a little bit—and then you can hit the second notch on the bottom here. 

Put it on the lip of the bottle and then you’re simply gonna pull up with the corkscrew. Nice and slowly, you don’t want to go too hard. If you do, you get that big popping sound, you can spill the wine all over. Comes right out of the bottle, nice and simple. Once you’re done, just twist the cork right off the worm. 

You’ll find that most servers and restaurants and hospitality setups will use these. They travel easy, they’re simple to use, and, as you can see, it’s just kind of a cool way to open a bottle. This is the Elite Corkscrew. Like I said, they come in all different styles. This has a very nice wood trim on the front. There’s our Wine Enthusiast professional Waiter’s Corkscrew, which is sort of an entry-level, so you’re gonna find various styles of these on, and if you have any questions just give us a call at 800-356-8466. Cheers.

Waiter’s Corkscrews from Wine Enthusiast

Their small size makes the waiter’s style corkscrew a very economical wine opener. You can find them very cheap at most liquor stores, drugstores or department stores with a kitchen section. Of course, we recommend choosing a quality product from a trusted brand—one that will supply the necessary force to pop out the wine cork fully intact, and that you’ll feel good about using in front of house guests, partners, and friends.

Wine Enthusiast’s curated selection of waiter’s corkscrews includes openers featuring handsome polished wood, strong stainless steel, and the ability to personalize each piece for a thoughtful gift. Contact us with any questions you may have while shopping!

From his first sips of wicker basket Chianti at his grandfather’s dinner table to a 1986 Premier Cru Gevrey-Chambertin, Tilden knew that there was something magical about wine. He earned his Diploma in Wine and Spirits from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and is a Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators. Having been with Wine Enthusiast catalog since 2005, when he is not writing about wine he also runs the wine storage division and is head of W.E.’s in-house education program.