The Waiter’s Friend is your Friend too

On at least one occasion I dropped a bottle, after wrestling the thing like some kind of wild python. It escaped. As did the Cab... forever adding a nice light purple hue to the stone floor.

The waiter's friend - there will be blood.
The waiter's friend - there will be blood.

How do you open a bottle of wine?

Do you astound your guests by pulling out a saber, and slice off the head of the bottle (and a few fingers)? Do you indiscreetly pull out that Rabbit you received over the holidays and do yeoman’s work? Or do you fancy a solar powered gizmo that throws sparks, streams Pandora?

Perhaps the best answer is the method that results in an open bottle. It could even involve a shoe – a viral French experiment that made the rounds a few years back.

I get asked a lot, surprisingly; so what is the best way to open a bottle of wine?

My answer is always the same: a waiter’s friend.

It’s a classic. While there is no right or wrong answer to popping the cork, if I were to pick one device it would be the simple, pocket friendly waiter’s friend. Designed by German Karl Wienke in 1882, essentially it looks like a pocket knife. It folds neatly, and features a fulcrum, a pull out corkscrew (the work) and a small knife (the blade) for cutting foil.

There’s nothing fancy about it, and represents a simple, no fuss, non-tech way to pop open your favorite Chard, Cab, or Sauv Blanc. Next time you dine out, check out what the sommelier uses for wine service. Chances are, it’ll be a waiter’s friend.

Make sure that nice Napa cab you open gets to the glass, not the floor.

About the only choice you’ll need to make is the finish and style. My waiter’s friend, a German designed Rösle, is – again, because I like clean lines, simplicity – finished in 18/10 stainless steel, which provides wonderful heft and feels great in the hand. There are no wood accents (save that for the dash of your Jag if you must… but I highly recommend carbon fibre) and not one single Hello Kitty in sight.

Oh- sure it sounds dashing.

But I’ve experienced just about every single wine bottle opening mishap imaginable… typically in front of large groups:

— Countless times, I’ve pulled the corkscrew only to leave half the cork sitting in the bottle. The fishing expedition that ensues trying to remove a partial cork is not exactly an elegant, confidence inducing process.

— On at least one occasion I dropped a bottle, after wrestling the thing like some kind of wild python. It escaped. As did the Cab… forever adding a nice light purple hue to the stone floor.

— And, yes, I’ve drawn blood. Sometimes the foil acts as the most impressive security device of all time (bested only by those insane blister packages you get at Costco).

Opening a bottle can be a gritty, adventurous affair, and it’s just one more reason why wine can be such a pleasurable and memorable experience.

Just remember: that stubborn $160 Special Selection Caymus is best celebrated in the glass, not on the floor. Trust the waiter’s friend, mes amis.

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