Luxurious Laguiole Corkscrews: A Fabulous French Gift For Wine Lovers

Laguiole corkscrews, best artisanal French gifts

A handcrafted Laguiole waiters corkscrew (made in France). It’s part pocket knife, part wine and bottle opener, and it’s the perfect gift for any wine and beer lover who appreciates artisanal quality and the finer things in life. But Laguiole corkscrews are expensive and buying “authentic” Laguiole can be tricky unless you know where and what to look for.

In search of a special gift for my wine loving husband

My husband Blake is a guy’s guy who loves tools, pocket knives, pine-scented aftershave, beer and other manly man stuff. He also enjoys wine, cheese, and the finer things in life when our budget permits.

So for Blakes Birthday, I wanted to get him a practical gift that also appealed to his inner gentleman.

At first, I thought about buying him a really nice artisan quality Laguiole pocket knife corkscrew to replace the one he lost during our summer backpacking trip through Asia.

But then I saw the Laguiole waiter’s corkscrews. 

pocket knife with corkscrew vs waiters friend corkscrew

1) Laguiole pocket knives with a corkscrew. (Looks like a traditional pocket knife)

2) Laguiole waiter’s friend corkscrew with a bottle cap remover and small foil cutter blade (aka waiter’s corkscrew, wine key and sommelier corkscrew).

You might be interested in learning the anatomy of a waiter’s corkscrew in French and English.

I really liked the fact that the waiter’s corkscrew contained all the essential tools needed to open both a wine bottle and a beer bottle. Sure the foil cutter blade was smaller than a traditional pocket knife, but that’s ok, Blake doesn’t hunt, except for nice bottles of wine and beer.

Everything you need to know about buying Laguiole

artisanal French waiters corkscrew

Laguiole isn’t cheap. Not even their corkscrews which can cost anywhere from one hundred dollars to several hundred dollars.

That’s a lot of money for a corkscrew. The last thing I wanted to do was buy one of those cheap, low-quality counterfeit Laguiole products that continue to flood the market so I researched everything I could and found the perfect one.

The Chateau Laguiole waiter’s corkscrew signed by Gerard Basset (famous sommelier). It’s as functional as it is a beautiful piece of artisanal craftsmanship-perfect for road trips, picnics and fancy dinner parties.

See photo below of the actual one I bought for Blake. 

This is the Laguiole corkscrew I bought Blake for his birthday.

I discovered there’s a lot of confusion around the legendary Laguiole name. Even my French friends were confused.

People often think just because they are buying something that has the Laguiole name and the famous engraved bee, that they are getting something of superior quality made in France.

laguiole bees are engraved on all Laguiole corkscrews and pocket-knives

What most people don’t realize is that Laguiole IS NOT a Brand or trademark which means, from a legal standpoint, counterfeits and fakes don’t exist because the name Laguiole is public domain.

So when people say it’s a fake Laguiole, what they really mean is it’s “low quality,” “not made in France,” “not artisan quality” or all of the above.

To buy an artisan quality Laguiole product, you need to know what to look for and understand why anyone can use the Laguiole name.

Let’s explore a little history first.

About Laguiole village

Laguiole which is pronounced [ la-GEE-Yull ] with a hard “G”, sometimes [ lah-Yull ] by locals, is an idyllic small French town in the Auvergne region of France known not only as the birthplace of the high-quality Laguiole pocket knife but also for its cheese.

Laguiole village in the Auvergne region: The birthplace of the Laguiole pocket knife

The first Laguiole pocket knife

Originally the name Laguiole was associated with a particular knife shape, created in the 1820s by a cutler named Jean-Pierre Calmels in Laguiole France.

Jean-Pierre modelled his first folding Laguiole pocket knife from the “Capuchadou,” a knife of the French Aubrac farmers which had a fixed blade with the Spanish folding Navaja pocket knife from Catalonia.

first Laguiole knife: inspired by the capuchadou +Navajas-knives

Unfortunately, the name Laguiole was never trademarked, so other cutlers produced the Laguiole knife which was fine back then, however, today, you need to be very careful when purchasing anything with the name Laguiole on it.

How to spot a fake Laguiole

or how to buy an artisanal quality Laguiole corkscrew

This is somewhat of a gray area, but because there are no official rules which dictate what qualities a true Laguiole knife must have, it’s easy to find cheap knockoffs from China, Africa and even Europe; all capitalizing on the popularity and craftsmanship the Laguiole name carries. Read about the recent court ruling here. 

True Laguiole or genuine Laguiole products are handcrafted in France in the Auvergne region.

However, if you want an authentic, handcrafted Laguiole product made using artisanal craftsmanship from French master knife makers, there are some general guidelines that most Laguiole knife aficionados will agree you should follow.

LOG Laguiole origine garantie

 1. Lifetime Warranty:

All Laguiole products should have a lifetime warranty so make sure you receive a guarantee, showing the name, address and telephone number of the producer.

2. Price

Avoid low prices:

If a Laguiole knife or corkscrew is for sale for 9 dollars, it’s a fake. IT’S-A FAKE! Expect to pay at least 100 USD for a Laguiole corkscrew at a minimum.

3. Markings: 

Laguiole waiters corkscrews and pocket knife corkscrews should have the following markings.

  • French manufacturers stamp, trademark or signature engraved into the steel
  • “Made in France” usually stamped on the blade
  • A description of the type of steel used stamped on the blade (only pocket knives not waiter corkscrews)
  • LOG stamp on blades, which stands for “Laguiole Origine Garantie”. It guarantees artisanal manufacturing of its products in the historic area of Laguiole. Waiter corkscrews don’t have this mark, only the pocket knife corkscrews.

4. Location:

Was it created in France in the Laguiole region?

Just as true Champagne can only be called Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region of France, Laguiole purists believe Laguiole cutlery must come from Laguiole, the birthplace of the original Laguiole knife.

But those are the purist. In general, Laguiole fans think it’s acceptable if factories and small ateliers in the surrounding towns of the Auvergne region create Laguiole (as long as it is artisan quality). Especially in the town of Thiers France where more than 60% of Laguiole knives are created.

Original French knife grinders aka yellow bellies, Thiers France

Thiers is a medieval town not far from Laguiole, known as “knife-city” and the knife capital of Europe. It has been famous for its cutlery industry since the 15th century, has approximately 80 knife manufacturing companies which produce 70% of France’s knives

There’s even a knife museumin Thiers, “Musée de la Coutellerie” where you can learn all about how the industry thrived in the area and how medieval cutlers originally made knives while laying on their stomachs.

5 trusted Laguiole manufacturer 

Although Laguiole is not a brand or trademark that can’t be trademarked, manufacturers can use the name Laguiole as part of their brand “name such as “Forge de Laguiole or “Laguiole en Aubrac”.

Here are five Laguiole manufacturers and brands who have a solid reputation and respect the ancestral and artisan tradition of the original Laguiole cutlers of France.

1. Forge de Laguiole 

Forge de Laguiole corkscrews

  • Waiter corkscrews & pocket knives with corkscrew
  • Price range: $100 to $600
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Made in France

The “Forge de Laguiole” workshop is the only brand on this list that actually has a workshop in Laguiole France.

Their products preserve the tradition of the handcrafted Laguiole knives and bare the stamp of their logo.

Forge de Laguiole waiter’s corkscrew prices are all around 200USD  to 250 USD.

Forge de Laguiole corkscrew pocket knives start around 200 USD. One of their most expensive corkscrew pocket knives has a fossilized bog oak handle pictured in the photo above on the right. It sells for over 500 USD.

2. Laguiole en Aubrac

Laguiole en Aubrac corkscrew

  • Waiter corkscrews
  • Price range: $150 to $450
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Made in France

Laguiole en Aubrac corkscrews are created in Espalian France which is still considered part of the historic Laguiole zone.

Many of their designs appeal to my feminine side like their pink camel bone, colourful recycled yogurt and spotted Amourette handles.

Prices start at around 150 USD and get up as high as 400 USD like the stainless steel mammoth tooth corkscrew.

3. Laguiole Actiforge

Laguiole Actiforge crockscrews

  • Waiter corkscrews & pocket knives with a corkscrew
  • Price range: $100 to $600
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Made in France

Laguiole Actiforge corkscrews, stamped with the mark of the wild boar, have some of the more traditional designs.  Nothing too modern and no bright pink colours in their product lineup.

They claim all their products are handmade in their workshop in Thiers France following ancestral methods.

Actiforge waiter corkscrew prices start at around 275 USD and go all the way to 375 USD however; their waiter corkscrew collection is pretty small. I found less than ten models to choose from.

Actiforge pocket knives with corkscrews start at 100 USD but can go as high as 600 USD depending on the material such as the blond horn Laguiole corkscrew with Damascus blade, pictured above on the right.

4. Chateau Laguiole

Chateau Laguiole brand corkscrew

  • Waiter corkscrews
  • Price range: $100 to $600
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Made in France

The brand Chateau Laguiole was created by Guy Vialis who was at one time, France’s best sommelier.

Guy Vialis was the first person to combine the waiters corkscrew design with the craftsmanship of a Laguiole product. Prior to that Laguiole only made pocket knives with corkscrews.

Today Chateau Laguiole waiter’s corkscrews are probably one of the more popular brands of Laguiole. And that may have something to do with their “best sommeliers of the world series” where each corkscrew is engraved with the name of a winner from the “Best Sommelier in the World competition” which happens every 3 years. Think of it as the Olympics for professional sommeliers who train for as much as six years to compete in this competition.

Each one supposedly represents the sommelier style and personality. My favourite is the corkscrew designed for Gérard Basset, a French sommelier who won the best sommelier in the world competition in 2010 and the Shinya Tasaki corkscrew, a Japanese sommelier who won in 1995.

5. Claude Dozorme

Laguiole Dozorme-waiter-corkscrew

  • Waiter corkscrews & pocket knives with a corkscrew
  • Price range: $100 to $600
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Made in France

This family business has been handcrafting knives since 1902. Claude Dozorme waiter’s corkscrews have an interesting twist to their design. The Laguiole bee is not part of the spine. Instead, it is on the rivet of the boot lever.

Honourable Mentions

Don’t want to spend one hundred or more dollars on a corkscrew but still want something nicer than an ordinary kitchen corkscrew?  Here are two more French brands that make corkscrews for less than fifty dollars.

Le Creuset waiter’s friend corkscrew

Le creuset double lever Corkscrew

  • Waiter corkscrews
  • Price range: $25 to $40
  • 10-year warranty
  • French Brand

You’ve probably seen or own one of their signature enamelled cookware pots. If not, you should get one. Le Creuset, pronounced [luh-CROO-say] which means “the crucible” has a solid reputation for quality and is one of the most coveted kitchenware brands in the world.

And now they have Le Creuset corkscrews. Le Creuset waiter’s corkscrews cost between 25 and 40 USD.

Coutale waiters friend corkscrew

Coutale-double-lever-Corkscrew

  • Waiter corkscrews
  • Price range: $20 $40
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Made in France

Based in the South West of France, Coutale claims that their corkscrews are the ONLY French patented spring-loaded double lever corkscrews on the market.

The most premium model in the Coutale Sommelier corkscrew line-up is called the Prestige. Made with a natural wood handle or stainless steel handle, automatic knife closure when the lever arm is lifted, and a Teflon coated worm for a smoother cork pull.

What I found curious was that the Coutale waiter’s friend corkscrew looks a lot like the Creuset corkscrew.

The Verdict: So which is better?

If you want the prestige, exceptional artisan quality, and you’re willing to pay at least one hundred or more USD, than go with any of the Laguiole names listed above but the determining factor here is style, design and materials.

Pocket knife corkscrew or waiter’s corkscrew? Laguiole lovers and pocket knife geeks will love Laguiole Pocket knives with a corkscrew. For those that could care less about having a full-size blade and prefer the functionality of a 3 in one corkscrew, then the Laguiole waiters friend corkscrew is the way to go.

About the Author

Annie André Is a half Thai, half French Canadian/American freelance writer, digital marketer and author of THE LIVE IN FRANCE GUIDE: an expat travel and lifestyle blog featuring destination guides, inspiration, travel tips, personal advice and anecdotes on working, living and playing in France. ( Equal parts weird, wacky and wonderful).

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