I worked in a restaurant in my younger years, one that sold wine and thus required me to attain a (low) level of mastery in uncorking bottles. It has not, for me, been a life-changing skill to possess but, nonetheless, it is a skill in which I have remained somewhat facile, much to the thrill of the ladies. Okay, that last part is a giant exaggeration. Needless to say, I can open a wine bottle with the best of 'em.
Understanding all that, it should come as little surprise to you that I am one of those elitist uncorkers who scoff at the mere idea of a mechanical screwpull. I mean, really, just what sort of Amateur Hour is this? Balderdash! If you need a screwpull then why don't you just buy screwtop bottles, hmmm? Talk about the dumbing down of society! Where is your pride? Your dignity? How far has humanity fallen? Oh, woe!
My new mechanical screwpull arrived in the mail this week. I must say, I am a HUGE fan! The entire thing came in a fancy-ish cloth-lined wooden box, with form-fitting spaces for each piece of the kit. There is a disc-shaped foil cutter that fits easily in the palm of my hand (but I am the half-giant bastard son of an ogre, so YMMV) and it quickly and cleanly slices through the foil cap. It also adjusts, via spring, to varying bottle neck sizes with a simple squeeze.
The screwpull itself is a handsome machine of either polished aluminum or stainless steel. It's pretty large - larger than I expected - and somewhat heavy, which can make it a bit awkward around fragile bottles if you're not prepared for it. Two handles function as a grip to secure the bottle, and a helpful plastic tog pops out to let you know you're applying enough pressure. A third, top handle acts as a piston lever to drive the corkscrew into the cork and then easily extract it by pushing the lever back over. Ungrip the bottle, close the grips again, and repeat the uncorking action to easily release the cork - plus, the screwpull is then entirely returned to its closed configuration and ready to place back in its box.
Now, I received the screwpull for free, so I can't really attest to its value. I'm told it retails for $150, and if that's the case, that seems a bit pricey for what, to me, is a pair of vice-grips on steroids. I'd say a more reasonable price is around $50, and even then I think that's a tad high.
Still, I fear my manual skills with a waiter's corkscrew will fade fast now. I don't think I'll ever go back.