Corkscrew Envy

Michael Nagrant / 01.18.07

Zevro’s new wine bottle opener

I’ve got corkscrew envy.

For years I’ve settled for the double lever wing style corkscrew, the standard kind you find in the cooking supply aisle in your local grocery store. Sure it takes five minutes and the strength of Vin Diesel to open a bottle, but it’s the style I grew up, and I’ve settled on it precisely out of nostalgia.

Still, as I’ve settled, the design world hasn’t, and iterations of corkscrews have come and gone. Of those inventions, I’ve secretly longed for one of those sleek rabbit style corkscrews that pulls corks in an instant , but I figure for $50 bucks I could get a couple of nice bottles of grape juice instead.

Also, I’ve always thought that waiters with their sleek handheld corkscrew and foil cutting knife combos have kind of a swashbuckling Johnny Depp quality, and I figured if I could master the tableside slash and pop like a master sommelier, I’d surely score with the ladies. Of course I’m happily married, and my wife might have something to say about that. Besides my tastes run to handcrafted Laguiole corkscrews with their riveted bone and wood handles, and again, at $150+ bucks for a corkscrew that requires skill and art, well I’d rather drop that dough on some good bubbly.

Now there’s a new breed to consider: the inert gas actuated bottle opener. With Zevro products Indispensableâ„¢ wine bottle opener, you can now flip the lid on a Bordeaux, Burgundy, or Alsatian in seconds flat.

I received one in the mail from the manufacturer in October, and I’ve put it through about 40 bottles in the last two months. Lest you think I’m vying to replace Keith Richards, it should be noted that most of those bottles were consumed by others at a couple of holiday parties.

Sleek and attractive, the bottle opener, with its tapered handle, black rubber grip and gleaming metal accents looks like a new age pepper mill or miniature lighthouse as reimagined by the architect Michael Graves. Attached at the bottom is a little black foil cutting ring which looks like a mini-life preserver.

The Zevro opener certainly gets rid of the brute force equation. In fact it’s so easy, you’re kind of worried you did something wrong. All you do is pop off the black foil cutter, put it over the top of the wine bottle, squeeze and turn the ring, and you’ve perfectly cut off the top circle of foil covering the cork. Then you take the opener itself, place it over the bottle and push down. A little needle in the center of the opener depresses into your cork. Once the bottom of the opener is resting on the shoulder of the wine bottle, and the needle has been inserted in the cork, you just press a button at the top and there’s an audible pop, and you’re done. Lift the opener off, and retract the opener shotgun style and the cork falls out. Poppin tops ain’t just for beer anymore!

It’s certainly the fastest opener I’ve used. At $24.99 retail, it’s also at a manageable price point.

There are some caveats.

The opener uses mini-pressurized refill canisters that open about 50 bottles of wine (We’re on bottle 41 with a single canister, so this seems to be true). According to the internet, Americans consumer 8 liters a year on average, or just over 10 bottles a year, (this seems wrong, though I’ve confirmed the stat from multiple sources, so maybe I truly am a drunk since I go through like a bottle a week in my house) and at that rate most people will only need one canister every five years. The refills cost anywhere from $5-9 bucks depending where you buy them, so that adds to the base price.

We checked with the manufacturer and the inert gas in the cartridges shouldn’t have any reaction with your wine. Still, if I we’re rocking an old expensive bottle of Margaux or Petrus, I’d be worried that an old cork might crumbled from the air pressure, so I’d be likely to keep this opener away from the really special bottles. On the other hand if I was drinking Petrus, I could probably afford to blow up a bottle or two for sport.

This opener is for natural cork only. If you’re buying lots of Trader Joe’s wines under $10, you’re bound to run into a lot of plastic corks, and this opener isn’t right for you. In fact we didn’t realize you couldn’t use it on synthetic corks, and we tried it on a few. One time it worked well, another time, there was so much pressure built up that, when the cork popped, so did the wine all over our counter.

Finally, if you got a bunch of Magnums, Jeroboams, or Methuselah’s in your collection, i.e. large format bottles, not biblical action figures, the opener is not recommended.