A big part of the fine dining experience comes from the right companion of food – wine. The grace with which the server opens your bottle also adds to the charm.
If you are a server, bartender or a sommelier, wine key becomes one of the essential accessories, given their portability and efficiency. No wonder it is also called a Waiter’s friend, Sommelier’s knife or a Butler’s friend. Since its innovation in the 19th century, this device has not lost most of its initial design traits.
Choosing the right wine key can be crucial to your everyday operations. Let us look at factors which should influence your options.
Considering the intentions
The first thing you can do is to consider your primary intention with wine-opener. Ask yourself some simple questions like, are you looking for something durable that would not wither away in a couple of months? Or are you looking for a double-hinged classic that fits your hands perfectly? Would you require something traditional to open older wine bottles with troublesome corks?
In busy restaurants, consistency in service is paramount. Consider the following attributes if you open bottles by the minute.
- A multipurpose worm: Wine bottle corks come in many different materials and sizes. Ensuring a warm, wide-grip worm that effectively pulls any cork-type would be wiser than carrying multiple wine keys
- Heavy-duty operations: You do not want to lose tips due to broken tools, so pick a durable device that sticks around for long
- Usability: A server’s life is fast-paced; there should be no room for complications. An easy to use wine key translates into more tips – make sure it is easy to grip and fits in your apron or pants
- Value for money: Restaurants generally do not overspend on an everyday item for their staff, and you would not want to purchase an expensive item that can be easily replaced.
The best wine keys for servers
Based on the way they look and function, some of the most popular options are listed below. Take a look at the pros and cons of each of the models; we are sure you would find one that speaks to you!
Pulltap Double-Hinged Waiter’s Corkscrew
This neat looking device is both handy and sturdy. Featuring double hinges, one of which is perfect for leveraging to cork out, the pull tap corkscrew saves both effort and time. It comes equipped with a serrated foil cutter, an integrated bottle opener and the worm is made of non-stick materials.
Coravin Wine System
Variations like model two and model eight of the Coravin wine system are based on the same premise of allowing wine-tasting without opening the bottle. Yes, you heard that right.
Oxidation can render an opened bottle of wine unfit for drinking in a few days if left unfinished. Imagine this happening to the entire production of a prized cellar! Thanks to the Coravin system, you can check the ageing without risking oxidation.
Technically not an opener and being expensive, recommended where fermenting and tasting in-house product is a part of everyday life.
Two-Pronged Cork Puller
The double prong wine key, aka the ‘Butler’s Thief’ is commonly used in European countries like Germany. It is highly efficient in pulling brittle corks that come with older bottles – one of the safest ways of doing so without damaging the cork.
The Rabbit Type Wine Opener
One of the best wine keys to use, the rabbit or lever type has an ergonomic grip that makes it perfect for servers who hate wingtips. However, the bulkier design makes it less convenient to carry along.
The Waiter’s Corkscrew
The time-tested favorite of servers across the world – waiter’s key is practical, pragmatic, and long-lasting. It fits right into the pockets, offers an incredible mechanical advantage, and does not cost much. Even if this does not appeal to you, it is life-saving when your primary device breaks down.