An App for That

Written By: Tipsy Table - Sep• 10•14

Finally graduating to smart phones, we were surprised at all of the functions available, some of them useful to business or social engagement. We found thousands of applications for any variety of activities, many seemingly exercises in digital legerdemain. There are so many it is more than frustrating. The abundance actually makes one sad, the way thinking of how many sunny beaches there are that we will never experience, or incredible mixed drinks we will not prepare. But, we have found a few that we use and like.

One favorite is SHAZAM which, when the phone is held up to the speaker of music playing, will identify the band or singer.  A lounge of singers crave to sound like Chairman Sinatra or Peggy Lee and a few come close and keep us guessing. Or, we hear another cover from The Great American Songbook that is pretty good, or we just cannot recall a one-hit-wonder band from the 70s. We dial up SHAZAM and it gives us the background on the singer or band, the lyrics, and more. It is a great app and it is free. This started us wondering about an app we really need and have not yet found.

We agreed that we would immediately download the “Find My Corkscrew” app. We spend more time than we would like looking for this essential tool. It seems we will have continuing difficulty finding a consistent place for it in our crowded cabinet drawers. If you have have ever needed a corkscrew, you know how important it is to have one at the ready.

Now, the corkscrew has a long history, dating at least to the 17th century. It was a tool of necessity as beverages in bottles began to use compression stoppers. Historians think the tool is an English invention, and there is documentation from 1795 of a patent being granted to one Reverend Samuell Henshall in that country for an improvement to the basic tool that added a disk between the worm and the shank. Though a simple pointed helix shape with some kind of handle for leverage, over time the pullers have taken on various forms.

T handle

The basic pull

We still have several of the basic pulls, including those that have a removable part of the T handle that becomes a sleeve for the “worm” or helix. These are inexpensive and lightweight and useful in a picnic basket or camper van. We have found that they can be difficult with a stubborn cork and will break.

Other popular pulls add some lever arms for more power to the pull.

Angel Wing

The angel corkscrew

This improvement is sturdy, efficient, and uses less energy. Most of us have used this version, which gained popularity in the 1940s. It is variously called a butterfly or angel corkscrew. As one twists the worm into the cork, the levers rise. Pulling down the levers in turn pulls out the cork. The top is often shaped as a bottle opener for additional utility. If there is a downside to this beauty, it is the size and weight that can take up room in the drawer.

Ah So

The ah-so

One step in the evolution we do not understand, and that is the twin prong puller, sometimes called for  a butler’s friend or an “ah-so.” We have not found it friendly. The idea for this version is to gently ease the prongs between the cork and neck of the bottle and to twist out the cork. This tool has the advertised advantage of not only taking out a cork, but to re-insert it, if one finds that an advantage, but what crazy fool has leftover wine? We’ve watched the YouTube ™ videos and still don’t get it, so it’s No-Ah-So for us as we have never found this useful to remove a cork.


The sommelier knife

For the server or serious wine aficionado, the sommelier knife is a must. This compact tool is total utility and a must for the kitchen, van, or cooking apron pocket. German Karl Wienke patented this variation in 1882. It is light and strong and almost foolproof, incorporating all the necessary components into a pocket knife form. It will have a small knife blade at one end to cut the foil wrap on the bottle neck, the worm to grip the cork, and a lever arm that fits the lip of the bottle to assist cork removal. Some of the more advanced versions of this pull incorporate a two-step lever arm for ease of pulling at the start and as the cork emerges. Our current and daily favorite is just such a tool, employing articulation in the two-step arm that makes it even easier to use. It also offers us a built in bottle opener.

Our only remaining problem, to get back to the purpose of this rambling, is that we have to find this little jewel in order to use it. It is not likely that we will agree where to store it and, easily lost in a drawer, we need a signal of its whereabouts. Thus, the call for the new app “Find My Corkscrew.” It is possible, among the thousands of apps that pursue us, there is something of this kind. If not, there should be and some young techie might work on this during lunch hour at some upscale café or with takeout from Whole Foods™. The software and hardware should not be daunting. If the algorithm is generic, perhaps there could be additional apps such as “Find The Mate to My Sock.”  This is just a thought.






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