The Screwy History Of The Waitiers Corkscrew

Do you know how to say corkscrew in French? What about the parts of a corkscrew in French? Impress your wine drinking friends, family and French bistro waiters with your wine bottle opener vocabulary.

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 10, 2024  
Blake Laguiole corkscrew gift
Blake Laguiole corkscrew gift

Impress your wine drinking friends and French bistro waiters with your wine bottle opening knowledge and French vocabulary.
Despite not being a French invention, the corkscrew and wine bottle opener are probably among the most valuable and indispensable tools in the French kitchen, bistros and bars.

Carl Weinke invented and patented the first waiter's corkscrew, originally called a wine key

Who invented the corkscrew?

In 1795, Mr. Samuel Henshall from England received the world’s first patent for the simple “twist and pull corkscrew.” Although he was the first to patent the simple corkscrew, he probably didn’t invent the corkscrew since other modes existed before his patent.

The Waiters Corkscrew

There have been countless innovations and variations on the modern-day corkscrew and wine bottle openers since Samuel received the first corkscrew patent, from prongs and wings to hinges and air pressure. 

Perhaps the most famous wine bottle opener and the preferred corkscrew of servers, bartenders and sommeliers across the globe has to be the waiter’s corkscrew, invented and patented in 1882 by German inventor Carl F.A. Wienke, which he called a “Waiter’s Friend” in his patent filing. 

For over 100 years, the waiter’s corkscrew was known as a wine key, not a “waiter’s friend” because of a pronunciation mistake. 

When tavern owners wanted to order a new folding corkscrew, they asked their salesmen for “Wienke’s corkscrew.”  However, because most English speakers didn’t know how to pronounce  Wienke’s name, they asked for “wine key’s corkscrew.” Wienke is pronounced Veenka. 

As the Wine key became more and more popular in taverns and restaurants, and after the bottle cap was invented in 1892, a bottle cap remover was added to Weinke’s Wine key opener, and it picked up a few other nicknames along the way, such as waiter’s corkscrew. 

The anatomy of a waiters corkscrew in French and English

A waiter’s corkscrew in French is known by several names, just as it is in English. From “couteau de sommelier” (sommelier knife), and “tire-bouchon de sommelier” (sommelier corkscrew) to “limonadier”).

lemonador” obviously isn’t an English word. The wine key probably picked up this nickname in French when lemonade street vendors started using the wine key to open bottles of lemonade thanks to the bottle opener added to Weinke’s invention in the late 1900s.

Did you know a sommelier is a wine steward in a restaurant who’s in charge of wine and wine services?”

Anatomy of a waiter's corkscrew in English and French

Learn the lingo of a corkscrew in French

Whether you’re trying to expand your French vocabulary or just curious, here is all the bottle opener vocabulary you need to impress your wine-drinking friends.

  • Corkscrew = le tire-bouchon
  • Bottle opener = l’ouvre-bouteille
  • Waiter’s corkscrew = le couteau de sommelier, le limonadier, le tire-bouchon de sommelier
  • Boot lever = Le levier articulé
  • Bottle opener= Le décapsulateur
  • Foil cutter blade= La lame coupe capsule.
  • Handle (of the corkscrew)= le manche
  • Corkscrew, worm = la mèche de tire bouchon

How to uncork a wine bottle (directions in French)

  • Step one: Décapsuler la bouteille avec la lame coupe capsule.
    • Remove the foil from the bottle with the corkscrew blade.
  • Step two: Visser la mèche dans le bouchon.
    • Screw the worm (corkscrew) into the cork.
  • Step three: Placez le levier articulé sur le goulot, faites ensuite levier pour sortir le bouchon.
    • Place the boot lever onto the lip of the bottleneck and pull out the cork.

Did you know You can buy a Laguiole corkscrew? But be careful not to buy a fake.

Go forth and open your wine bottles in style now.

Coutale Sommelier Corkscrew- (Rosewood)

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Laguiole en Aubrac Sommelier Waiter's Corkscrew, Zebu Bone

Made in France by master craftsmen. Each piece is assembled from start to finish in one sequence and by a single artificer.

3 in 1 MULTI-FUNCTIONAL. Professional corkscrew with reinforced bottle opener and foil cutter with a serrated blade

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Pulltap's Genuine Collection Trencadis corkscrew bottle opener

Sourced directly from Pulltap in Barcelona, Spain and inspired by Gaudi.

Double-Hinged Lever Waiters corkscrew /wine bottle opener.

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a 'petite commission' at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. It helps me buy more wine and cheese. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.

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