How to Use a Corkscrew

Grip, screw, pull, slide… Wine tools all require a precise series of motions. The slightest oversight or false move could ruin your tasting experience, which is why bottle openers need to be handled with care and savoir-faire.

You therefore need to be familiar with certain steps to open a bottle properly and to master each motion. So, how do you use a corkscrew within the art of serving and tasting wine?

This how-to corkscrew guide, featuring our range of bottle openers, aims to introduce you to an age-old practice perpetuated by wine growers, merchants, oenologists and sommeliers. It also includes a description of each mechanism’s components, and step-by-step instructions for each type of bottle opener.

Contents of this corkscrew user guide:

L’Atelier du Vin’s corkscrews are intuitive and user-friendly. As a French manufacturer of oenology and sommelier accessories since 1926, we are constantly striving to adjust and perfect our models, to ensure the robustness of the components, the reliability of the opening mechanism, the ease of use and smoothness of the motion, in order to guide both neophytes and beginners in this great oenological adventure.

How to Use a Waiter’s Corkscrew

A waiter’s corkscrew, or waiter’s friend, is versatile and easy to carry. It was invented for, and often used by, waiters and waitresses. Often confused with a sommelier’s corkscrew because of their many similarities, the waiter’s corkscrew is made up of the following components:

  • a handle
  • a foldable worm
  • a retractable foil cutter
  • a bottle cap opener, often placed at the end of the handle, in the shape of a loop
  • a notched bootlever at the top of the handle (with 1 or 2 notches)

How to Open a Wine Bottle With a Waiter’s Friend

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Cut the foil under the lip of the bottle with the foil cutter, so that the cork can be extracted.
  2. Unfold the worm so that it is perpendicular to the corkscrew handle and vertical and place the tip on the cork.
  3. Twist the worm into the cork, without piercing the other end.
  4. Hook the bootlever notch on the bottle’s lip and hold it in place with your index finger, while firmly holding the bottle’s neck with the other hand.
  5. Lever the handle up with the other hand to extract the worm and cork. With a double notch or double trigger waiter’s friend, lever the handle up until the cork is halfway out of the bottle. Then hook the second bootlever notch and repeat the motion until the bottle is open.

How to Open a Wine Bottle With a Waiter’s Friend

The talented and discrete sommelier corkscrew presents a number of similarities with the waiter’s friend. However, it stands out for its handle made out of wood or another high quality material, as well as its bottle cap opener in the shape of a claw or tooth integrated into the lever (whereas the waiter’s friend tends to have a loop-shaped bottle cap opener at the end of the handle).

An authentic sommelier’s corkscrew is more refined than a waiter’s friend. It has a higher quality of finish and is therefore better suited for serving wine in a gourmet restaurant or prestigious establishment that cultivates the art of serving wine. More specifically, the sommelier corkscrew is made up of the following components:


  • a handle
  • a foil cutter blade
  • a single or double notched bootlever
  • a clawed bottle cap opener, integrated into the handle or lever

A sommelier’s corkscrew can have one or two notches on the bootlever. This provides support to lever the cork out of the bottle using the handle, without forcing it. A double trigger sommelier corkscrew has two bootlever notches to extract the corkscrew in 2 motions: first to extract half the cork and then to open the bottle with greater ease.


How to Open a Wine Bottle With a Sommelier Corkscrew

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  1. Use the foil cutter to cut under the lip of the bottle.
  2. Unfold the worm into a vertical position and place the tip on the cork.
  3. Insert the worm vertically by screwing it into the cork.
  4. Hook the bootlever notch on the lip and hold it firmly in place while gripping the bottle’s neck.
  5. With the other hand, lever the handle to extract the cork. For a double lever corkscrew, hook the first notch on the lip until half of the cork has been extracted and then hook the second notch and continue to pull the handle until the bottle is open.

How to Use a Lever Corkscrew

There are several types of lever corkscrews. The way they are used may vary depending on the model. Nonetheless, the extraction mechanism remains the same. An oenology lever corkscrew is larger than other bottle openers, highly reliable and, when used properly, allows to open a lot of bottles in a short period of time. Here are the main components that make up a lever corkscrew:


  • a jaw (and its hand-tightening system), which grips the bottle’s neck to keep the opening system stable during the extraction process
  • a spiral or worm
  • a lever, which plunges the worm into the cork in a two back-and-forth movements
  • a foil cutter, if applicable

Some models intended for professional use may also include an assembly part that is compatible with a fixing, to create a wall mount corkscrew. This professional lever corkscrew, firmly attached to the wall, allows to open a large number of bottles quickly. It also removes the risk of spilling, while the sommelier, wine merchant or oenologist holds onto the jaw or lever to open the bottle safely.

How to Open a Wine Bottle With a Lever Corkscrew

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  1. Cut the foil under the bottle’s lip with the built-in blade, or a separate foil cutter.
  2. Place the worm on the cork, in a vertical position, with the tip on the cork, and move the jaw down over the bottle neck. As you do this, the lever should move into an open position (if it isn’t already).
  3. Clamp the jaw on the bottle by firmly gripping it with your hand.
  4. With the other hand, push the lever down to insert the worm into the cork.
  5. Then, pull the lever back up to remove the cork and open the bottle.
  6. Loosen the jaw and lift the corkscrew off the bottle.
  7. For some models, you only have to push and pull the lever once to remove the cork.

How to Use a Winged or Double Lever Corkscrew (Charles de Gaulle)

This emblematic bottle opener is recognisable at a glance and is often used during family meals or evenings with friends. When the arms move into an upwards position, the tasting session can begin! This corkscrew is appreciated for its ease of use, enabling to effortlessly open bottles, as well as its unique design, like a little metal statue on the table or in the kitchen. It is also known as a Charles de Gaulle corkscrew, double lever corkscrew or winged corkscrew. It is made up of the following components:


  • a loop-shaped handle which is used to twist the worm into the cork or to cut the foil
  • a rack and pinion mechanism in extension of the handle
  • 2 pinions, or small notched cogs, inserted in the rack’s recesses
  • 2 wings or levers, connected to the pinions (Charles de Gaulle’s two raised arms, proclaiming “je vous ai compris !”, (“I’ve understood you!”))
  • a spiral worm in extension of the rack and pinion mechanism
  • a base which surrounds the worm and is placed vertically on the bottle neck to make it steady

How to Open a Wine Bottle With a Winged or Double Lever Corkscrew (Charles de Gaulle)

Step-By-Step Instructions:


  1. Remove the foil from the top of the bottle using a foil cutter.
  2. Place the tip of the worm, in an upright position, on the middle of the cork, with the top of the bottle neck inside the circular base for a stable grip. Hold the base and the neck with one hand, without blocking the wings (the levers are still down at this point).
  3. With your other hand, twist the handle to plunge the worm into the cork. The two wings will gradually rise up as the metal enters the cork. Stop screwing when the two levers are fully raised.
  4. Take each lever with both hands, while keeping the bottle steady in an upright position. Push both wings (levers) down at the same time. This will pull the worm upwards until the cork has been extracted.
  5. Once the bottle is open, hold it still with one hand and remove the double lever corkscrew with the other. Enjoy!

How to Use an Endless Corkscrew

This elegant and subtle bottle opener is characterised by its irresistibly smooth and effortless extraction mechanism. The motion is so natural that it is almost surprising to see the cork rising out of the bottle without any resistance. An endless corkscrew, or continuous pull corkscrew, is made up of the following components:


  • a pointy spiral worm
  • an endless screw mechanism, which uses a twist motion to drive the worm into the cork
  • a handle mounted on top of the endless screw mechanism
  • a ring base around the worm, or another system to grip the neck, with the worm in its centre

How to Open a Wine Bottle With an Endless Corkscrew

Step-By-Step Instructions:


  1. Cut the foil under the lip of the bottle with a blade or foil cutter and remove it.
  2. Place the base of the corkscrew over the top of the neck, with the tip of the worm on the cork, in a vertical position. Hold it firmly in place with one hand.
  3. Turn the handle with the other hand to drive the worm into the cork. Continue turning until the cork slides up the neck and is fully extracted.
  4. Remove the corkscrew from the top of the bottle and unscrew the cork from the worm manually.

How to use a Twin Blade Corkscrew

A wine cork extractor, or twin blade corkscrew, is ideal for carefully opening vintage bottles with corks that may crumble. This type of bottle opener is particularly appreciated and recognised by wine lovers and sommeliers. The L’Atelier du Vin’s Bilame corkscrew is an emblematic model patented in 1949, and renowned for its ability to extract a cork without piercing it and placing it back inside the bottle neck without leaving a trace! Simple yet ingenious, wine extractor corkscrews are made up of the following components:


  • a handle
  • 2 pointed curved metal prongs, of slightly different lengths
  • the corkscrew’s body, which joins the handle and 2 prongs together

How to Open a Wine Bottle With a Twin Blade Corkscrew (Without Piercing the Cork)

Extracting a cork without piercing it with a twin blade corkscrew requires a certain dexterity. The motion is more complex and subtle than for other mechanisms, which is why we recommend practicing on table wine bottles first to master this beautiful wine accessory, before using it to open vintage or prestigious wines.


Step-By-Step Instructions:


  1. Remove the foil with a foil cutter and, if necessary, dust off the bottle lip and neck.
  2. Place the cork extractor vertically, above the neck, with the tip of the longest prong resting between the cork and the inside of the glass.
  3. With one hand on the handle and the other one round the top of the bottle, gently slide the prong into the bottle’s neck, between the cork and the glass (without driving it into the cork), until the tip of the other prong slides between the cork and glass on the other side.
  4. Now, shimmy the handle with a left right motion, alternating from one prong to the other, while gently pressing downwards on each side. Each left right motion should drive the prong further down. No strong downward pressure should be applied when the handle is in a central and vertical position, to avoid pushing the cork into the bottle.
  5. When both prongs are inserted around the cork, turn the handle clockwise while pulling up, to slide the cork out of the neck and gently extract it.

How to Recork a Bottle Using a Twin Blade Corkscrew

Recorking a bottle with a twin blade corkscrew while maintaining the cork intact, as though it had never been opened, provides a feeling of great satisfaction. To achieve this oenological feat, simply repeat the same motion as when opening the bottle, in the opposite order.


  1. Reposition the cork between the two prongs, with the top part pressing against the corkscrew’s body.
  2. Insert the two prongs into the neck, against the glass, with the cork ready to return to its original position.
  3. Turn the handle while gradually inserting the two prongs into the bottle. Little by little, the cork will smoothly return to its original position.
  4. Once the bottle has been recorked, remove the prongs with a left right motion: when the handle is leaning towards one prong, pull the other upwards to extract part of it and so on, alternately, without moving the bottle, until the corkscrew has been fully removed.

Once the motion has been completed, the top part of the cork should either be aligned with the top of the neck (full recorking), or protrude slightly (partial or temporary recorking), in order to make it easier to open next time and to avoid pushing the cork too far into the bottle.

How to use an Electric Corkscrew

An electric corkscrew provides a comfortable and safe way to open a fine bottle of wine. The machine replaces the sommelier’s motions, which makes the operation even more mystical and therefore magical. But electric bottle openers are far more than mere gadgets for technology lovers. They have been adopted by many professionals in wine bars or behind restaurant counters. Although there are many different forms, an electric bottle opener is made up of the following components:


  • a cylindrical body
  • an open, circular section at the bottom housing the worm
  • an electrical mechanism that activates the worm’s screwing and unscrewing motion
  • one or more control buttons
  • one or more lights indicating whether the corkscrew is on or off and the battery level (as well as other possible options or indicators)
  • a charger to be plugged into the mains or a USB socket, and to connect to the bottle opener’s charging socket

How to Open a Wine Bottle With an Electric Corkscrew

Step-By-Step Instructions:


  1. Cut the foil with a foil cutter or knife.
  2. Hold the bottle with one hand and place the electric corkscrew’s cylindrical opening on the neck with the other hand, in a vertical position.
  3. Press the cork extraction button while holding the body in position, without moving it. This activates the mechanism: the worm drives into the cork and extracts it from the bottle. The operation is invisible and takes place inside the corkscrew.
  4. Remove the wine accessory from the open bottle and press on the button to release the cork, which will come out of the machine as if by magic.

How to Use a T-Style Corkscrew

T-style corkscrews are the most traditional bottle openers and have a rustic, authentic charm about them. Immediately recognisable by their handle and perpendicular worm, T-style bottle openers are the simplest in appearance. However, they are more complex to use, because they require strength and dexterity to smoothly open vintage bottles of wine.

How to Open a Wine Bottle With a T-Style Corkscrew

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  1. Place the bottle on a table. Hold the neck with one hand to maintain the bottle in a stable position. With the other hand, grasp the corkscrew’s handle, with the worm between the middle and ring fingers.
  2. Position the tip of the worm vertically on top of the cork. The worm should be aligned with the cork.
  3. Screw the metal worm straight into the cork, without ever touching the sides of the bottle neck, and without piercing through the other side of the cork to avoid it crumbling into the wine.
  4. Screw the metal worm straight into the cork, without ever touching the sides of the bottle neck, and without piercing through the other side of the cork to avoid it crumbling into the wine.
  5. Firmly pull the T-style corkscrew until the cork has been fully extracted and you hear the sound of the bottle opening.
Corkscrew T Sanbri L'Atelier du Vin

Has this corkscrew guide been useful? Discover L’Atelier du Vin’s other guides, full of tips and advice, by the French wine tool manufacturer since 1926.


To choose your wine accessories:



To learn how to serve wine like a sommelier: