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Posted: July 13, 2012

Ode to an opener

Sometimes simple is best

Cathie Beck—The Wine Wench

I think that I shall never see 

a corkscrew lovely as thee.

So we’re at City Park Jazz last Sunday evening and there’s this blanket in front of us with a middle-aged man and a middle-aged women on it. They’ve got their gear — the food, the doggie’s water bowl, the customized, just-for-the-wine, Williams & Sonoma sheek-arama wine basket — WAIT!

A basket beautifully woven with a real leather handle and oh-so-European buckle on it just to carry the wine bottle? Does he really think this’ll get him that coveted second date?

Then, last week, as a joke, I look up gadgets for wine drinkers and bikers. And guess what? Idiocy abounds and it’s all yours, so long as you have an American Express. There’ the little two-strappy thing that attaches to that bicycle bar between your legs to “help” you carry your wine bottle while toodling about town. Do I really want a liter and half of glass and liquid dangling between my knees when I’m bustin’ it to get up that long hill in front of me?

I don’t think so.

All this is laughable b.s. (yet profitable) wine paraphernalia made me think two things: How entertaining and ridiculous people can be and how much I love the simple corkscrew.

You know the one: handle + screw = “T.”

I love to see and hear a simple corkscrew in action. I love to watch a man jam that thing down into a cork, work its one-dimensional mechanism and hear the soft “pop” at the end. I love when he (a woman lacks the “umph,” and often, the upper-body strength) pulls the cork, with the corkscrew, from the bottle and you know the wine is relaxing, moving about and taking in needed oxygen.

Oh, I have many the fancy wine gadget, including horrifically priced “wine bottle openers.” I’ve got one right now that is quite the sculpture of nickel-plated stainless steel and soft, sensually coated handles and it looks like some sort of coveted Oscar statue over there next to the wine rack.

And I used to use an electronic corkscrew that you held in your hand much like a flashlight and, when pressed to the bottle’s lip, would swiftly screw, then release the corkscrew from the bottle.

But neither of these wine bottle openers held out. The Williams & Sonoma is a piece of pricey doo-doo and never, ever worked, no matter what. It weighs a ton. I don’t throw it away because it looks good and I’m vain. Its electric sister used to sit next to it until it died 10 months into ownership and I learned it’s irreparable and no longer manufactured.

I’ll bet with good reason.

I can toss the T-shaped corkscrew in a drawer, it always works, it doesn’t show off and can often be found at the end of a man’s Swiss Army Knife. It’s cheap, available most anywhere and is hard to improve upon.

I know. That’s what you thought your husband was, but it all works out in the end because, in the end, they’re both always there for you, without fanfare or high expectations of you. In fact, they don’t care and fully expect you to drink more wine than you should. That’s what makes them both so lovable.

But I digress.

A tool whose hungry screw is pressed

Against the grape's sweet flowing breast.

Or something like that.

One Winning Wine Tasting

August 11 marks this year’s Balistreri Vineyard summertime event. Join hundreds of other wine and music lovers at the Mambo in the Vineyards: A Tribute to Tito Puente. Music, food, wine and auction are just part of the festivities. Balistreri recently completed and opened the Balistreri Events Center and it’s a beauty. VIP treatment gets attendees early admission, the chance to meet and greet musicians and reserved seating. Cost: $100 or $190 for two. Call 303.446.7614 for further information. 

Weird Wine Trivia

 Who invented the corkscrew? According to Wikipedia:

The corkscrew is possibly an English invention, due to the tradition of beer and cider, and Treatise on Cider by John Worlidge in 1676 describes "binning of tightly corked cider bottles on their sides", although the earliest reference to a corkscrew is, "steel worm used for the drawing of Corks out of Bottles" from 1681.

In 1795, the first corkscrew patent was granted to the Reverend Samuell Henshall, in England. The clergyman affixed a simple disk, now known as the Henshall Button, between the worm and the shank. The disk prevents the worm from going too deep into the cork, forces the cork to turn with the turning of the crosspiece, and thus breaks the adhesion between the cork and the neck of the bottle. The disk is designed and manufactured slightly concave on the underside, which compresses the top of the cork and helps keep it from breaking apart.

Cathie Beck, a/k/a The Wine Wench, can be reached at: TheWineWench@comcast.net. Please forward any and all wine events, wine-related news items directly to her.

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