The Tulip corkscrew: best argument for screwcaps yet, Tim Pawsey photo

Maybe it’s not surprising. but the Hired Belly has a thing about corkscrews. Even though these days we likely encounter almost as many screw caps (or even the occasional Zork) as we do corks, the choice of weapon—the venerable ‘church key’ or whatever you may call it—is crucial when it comes to pulling the bark out of even a half decent bottle of wine.

Over the years we’ve encountered a fair collection of church keys. And we’ve also consigned to that great corkscrew graveyard (the Goodwill) no shortage of imperfect interpretations—remarkably, many inscribed with names of wineries who should have known better.

The latest aberration we’ve come across is the quite remarkable Tulip. However, we regret to say—no matter how pretty—how uber-sophisticated or beyond decorous (or that ‘it works on all corks’)—this horticultural twist on an old theme won’t be growing in our gadget garden any time soon.

We’re pretty sure we’ve tried them all, from little prongs (‘Butler’s Friends’) that don’t penetrate but slide down the side of the cork—requiring a certain degree of sobriety to wield—to C02 injection devices with terrifying needles—that, for the unsuspecting, can turn a bottle of anything frizzante into an unwanted instant kitchen makeover.

And don’t even get us started on those plastic tube-screw disasters found in $200 a night hotel rooms. Vengeance, no doubt, for not using room service…

For sure, there are varying degrees of perfection. Some good friends, for instance, possess The Rabbit, arguably the ultimate in near-mechanized extraction. But priming it is a bit like taking the Rolls out of the garage: you have to plan ahead.

Or at the very least, call the chauffeur.

We’re also not big fans of the ‘winged’ design (as in the Tulip), the revolving silver coil, that lurks in so many a kitchen. Not that there’s anything really wrong with it. But ‘clumsy’ and ‘mildly inefficient’ are words that come to mind.

In the end, when you think about it, hundreds of thousands of everyday working people can’t be wrong. The ‘two tiered’, articulated waiter’s friend style, in all its various permutations, is still the ultimate, simple solution that combines basic physics and smart engineering with the minimum of exertion.

All you have to do is be able to stick it in the right place—hopefully the centre of the cork. But that’s another issue altogether. Here’s one of the best examples of how it works:

On the other hand, if the operator really doesn’t have the strength to lever the cork (while keeping their hand around the neck), we used one of these clever, cranky Screwpulls for years—until the handle broke.

Recently, we’ve amassed a small collection of dual stage, waiters friends, most by Pulltaps, with teflon coated worm that makes it even easier, as well as a foil cutter knife. We delight in surreptitiously leaving them in our friends’ and relatives’ kitchen drawers, so next time we visit we can pull that cork with the minimum of drama. And so can they …

After all, being without a decent cork screw is a bit like not owning a seriously sharp kitchen knife.

Not to put too fine a point on things.

A fresh crop of Pulltaps, Tim Pawsey photo