There are tons of wine opener choices. Corkscrews come in a variety of styles, from traditional to novelty, and have been around since the 1700’s.
I’ve had my standing wine opener for over 20 years. I paid about a hundred bucks for it…then. It has an oak base and handle and an antique bronze mounted corkscrew. It’s easy to use with just a pull of the lever. About 5 years ago I bought one for each of my daughters. From the beginning and to this day neither of theirs has worked as well as mine. They are wobbly, have a cold hard granite base. (Not good if you let the bottle slip out of the clamp… learned that one the hard way!)
The standing wine opener looks great on the bar top. All you have to do is insert a wine bottle into the clamp, pull the handle toward you and the corkscrew, also known as “the worm” (yuck, I know!) enters the cork. Then you hold the bottle, release the clamp, and push the arm back to pull the cork out. It’s not rocket science, people!
Well, in my family, apparently I’m the only one that can use it properly. My sisters and daughters have failed miserably, all with the same result as my brother who recently tried. Not sure how, but he managed to push the cork into the bottle of wine, splashing 1/3 of the bottle onto my off-white (now slightly pink) living room wall. I have now covered that area with 4 tin ceiling tiles as a new back splash.
My girlfriend uses a battery-operated wine opener. To me, it’s like the difference between reading a paperback book verses reading your story on a kindle. Both get the job done, but you’re cheating yourself out of the feel of the paper and the smell of the ink—Tradition! Without manually twisting the corkscrew and by just pushing a button you miss out on earning the tease of the first whiff of tartness or sweetness depending on what you are opening. Again, Tradition! As I was reading about this type of wine opener “for the (wo)man who has everything,” I actually read in one advertisement… “for those who find opening wine a hassle.” Really? A hassle? How sad!
By the way, she also had a “Rabbit” or lever corkscrew. I’ve never seen it in use, it seemed to be on display only. The reason I know it was for opening wine is because I asked. I asked what was with the “dental tool displayed on the bar.” She informed me, “it was a very expensive tool for opening wine. It was engraved. It was a gift.” Ummm…ok.
So, if you don’t use a standing wine opener or an electric corkscrew maybe you use a vintage styled table model corkscrew with a continual turning handle to lift the cork straight out, probably the most eloquent way to open a bottle. Or, possibly you use one of the several varieties of a winged or butterfly corkscrew with two levers that, once you screw the corkscrew (still can’t say the word “worm”) into the cork, it lifts the cork out with minimum effort.
Of course, if you are in the business, you use a wine key. Also known as a “waiter’s friend” or “sommelier’s knife”. This double hinged, double lever opener folds like a pocket knife, some even have bottle opener and a knife to slice the foil. (As if you can’t just use the sharp end of the screw to slice off the foil!) You’d be surprised at how many restaurant waiters my husband (yes, the Rum Drinker) and I have taught to use their wine key! Scary, I know!
By the way, for those of you who don’t happen to have a butler, a butler uses the “Butler’s Friend”: A Two-Pronged Cork Puller. (Guess they don’t like to twist!)
Since I brought up the Rum Drinker, his favorite wine opener is the simple hand-held T-shaped corkscrew- wood handle, metal worm. (OK there, I said it!) And, we both have that “emergency portable corkscrew” – the plastic corkscrew that uses the cover of the screw to form the handle of the ‘T”-- in our car, and one on the boat, and one in my purse, and one in the tackle box, and one in my night stand, and one in… well, you get the picture!
I spend a lot of my daytime hours writing, reading and/or researching for my writing. I start in the morning, after an online yoga or barre class, when my brain cells are at their freshest. A few diet cokes and left-overs for lunch easily get me through to around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. I wrap it up then if I have a previously scheduled appointment or errand to run. If I have neither, I continue on until 5 pm. (My wine time is the carrot on the stick that gets me through those last two hours!) Recently, I have been researching fairy tales and fables for a writing project (More on that front later!).
I came across one of Aesop’s Fables that sums up my intentions for IF CORKS COULD TALK. COM
“The Old Woman and the Wine-Jar
You must know that sometimes old women like a glass of wine. One of this sort once found a Wine-jar lying in the road, and eagerly went up to it hoping to find it full. But when she took it up she found that all the wine had been drunk out of it. Still she took a long sniff at the mouth of the jar.
"Ah," she cried, "What memories cling 'round the instruments of our pleasure.”
Excerpt From: Aesop. “Aesop's Fables.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/dlHTD.l
I’m pretty sure I am “one of this sort.” I can relate. The aroma of cabernet’s dark fruit and savory scents instantly brings me to picnics on the beach, card games at the kitchen table, sunset cruising on the boat. Girlfriends sitting cross-legged on the couch, candle lit bubble baths with a good book, even mouth-watering medium rare steak and potato meals, come crashing in with just one sniff.
Care to share the first thing that comes to mind when you take “a long sniff of the mouth of the jar” of your favorite vino?
When my husband, better known as The Rum Drinker, brought home a beautiful new boat, he invited a few friends and family out for our inaugural sunset boat ride.
It was a clear, late afternoon, perfect for a ride east out of Beverly Harbor to watch the sunset astern (behind us) and see the Boston skyline starboard (to our south).
We picked up cheeses, meats, some grapes and strawberries for our version of a Charcuterie. Adding crackers, I set up one tray on the galley table underdeck and another topside so our visitors could appreciate our new “second home.” (Really, nothing more than a sleek trailer in a glorified trailer park- but on water with great views!)
I stocked the cabinets with Crystal plastic cups, appetizer plates and silverware. Of course, there were red Solo cups, too. Jimmy Buffet- and the likes of him- played on the stereo system and an American flag flew off the stern.
The bow of the ship was equipped with plenty of cup holders and a couple of cozy blankets should someone need one on the return ride.
I even had a vase of Sunflowers to set the mood. The Rum Drinker made sure every piece of fiberglass and vinyl was glistening like a white iceberg in the morning light. The 39-foot white with blue trim Formula PC was set to go.
My sister was the first to arrive. After a tour of the boat, we poured a couple of red cups of Cabernet. We were headed to the dock to greet other guest we saw heading our way when, before either of us had even taken a sip of our wine, my sister tripped. Her generously-poured cup of red wine spewed and covered the entire stern bench. The perfectly laid out Charcuterie was upside down on the deck, cheese and strawberries smashed into the brand new snapped-on carpet.
The Rum Drinker stood in silence, mouth agape. Apparently, some people do cry over spills. My sister fell to her hands and knees to scoop up our appetizers. I graciously greeted our incoming guests.
Every once in a while you come across a story that makes you go … why didn’t I think of that?
This past Valentine’s Day brought me one and I can think of no better place to share it.
My niece Megan is a 2017 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. She and her BF Jun both graduated in April and spent the fall semester (harvest) studying wine and spirits in Napa. Need I say more? If only ‘those’ corks could talk …
Anyway, back to the story. Let’s fast forward to <3 day.
She says, “Please DO NOT get me flowers for Valentine’s Day”.
He complies … sort of ... and instead, shows up with 12 bottles of Rosé!
Jun is now working as a sommelier in NYC. Meg is also working at a top tier NYC restaurant. I have a feeling there are a lot of excellent corks in their future! I hope I get an invitation to share some of them!
A dozen Rosés … #evenbetter #heisakeeper
National Rosé Day- the second Saturday in June.
Having limited time to ponder and write due to an insanely hectic schedule this week, my three- year-old grandson had a tonsillectomy so I babysat my one-year-old-grandson over the long weekend, I am just going to share a short, but sweet episode of a day in the life of my younger sister and myself from way back when.
It was going to be a hot June day in Massachusetts and the strawberries were ripe. We woke up early and arrived at a local “Pick Your Own” strawberry farm by opening time, 8am. If you are going to take the time to pick your own, you should get there early so you can pick the best ones! In well less than an hour, we had picked six quarts of red, plump, juicy strawberries.
We got the tray of containers home safely then carefully washed and hulled the strawberries. We spread them out on a paper towel to dry and sprinkled them ever-so-lightly with crushed cane sugar. We then placed them into a large Tupperware container and onto a refrigerator shelf.
The day went along as most weekends with children and dogs. By evening, after dinner and a little clean-up we were ready for desert- strawberries, of course! I don’t have to tell you the wine had long ago been poured. That first bite of the cold, sweet yet tart strawberry was mouth-watering, but added to the tartness of the cabernet, we felt we were missing something.
“Chocolate,” my sister exclaimed. “We need dark chocolate.”
We dug through her pantry and she had nothing chocolate. (Give me a break, a Red Wine drinker with absolutely no chocolate in her house…unheard of!)
We became obsessed with finding some chocolate. Surely, there was some chocolate somewhere. We went through her car, searched the fridge, dug through junk drawers (well, you never know!)
Suddenly, something struck my sister. She stopped rummaging through drawers and ran up the stairs. Did she know where some chocolate was? I followed her up to my niece’s room. She pulled a white chair with a pink seat cushion out from under a white desk. She stepped onto it and reached to the top of the shelf and pulled down a large woven, pastel-striped Easter basket. And there, in the middle of pink, crinkled-paper Easter grass sat a 16 oz. boxed dark chocolate Easter bunny.
We hit the mother-load! (Yes, Easter had been in March, but 3 months was nothing, as long as it was that year’s Easter bunny!)
My sister, being the chef that she is, quickly set up a double boiler while I chopped the chocolate to tiny bits. As I slid the chocolate bits into the top pan, she slowly stirred in coconut oil and a wee bit of Karo Syrup.
In ten minutes or so, we were sitting out on her deck, dipping our fresh strawberries into warm, rich dark chocolate which went perfectly perfect with our Cabernet.
I have been traveling a lot the last three months, yet I really wanted to squeeze in a visit with a friend for a 5 o’clock sip and chat. She had called and, since her husband was out of town, suggested I stop by for a glass of wine so we could catch up.
I arrived at her house around 5pm after leaving my home at 9:30 that morning to attend four back-to-back appointments. Following a quick hug and choosing a most delicious Pinot Noir, we both plopped onto her couch and exhaled. Then we laughed. We were too exhausted to even speak. But, that is a great quality in good friends. Knowing we were finally in the same space, sharing a bottle of wine, even the silence was fulfilling. Eventually we found our voices and caught up a bit, then decided we were hungry.
She had nothing at home to offer. She had been too busy, and then too exhausted, to go to the grocery store. I couldn’t blame her, she was preaching to the choir! I was delirious- in fact, I was fading fast...I was blowing bubbles in my wine! We were too tired to go out. We were too brain dead to figure out what, or even if, we wanted to order something to be delivered. What we both really needed was a nap.
Then lo and behold, my husband called to see if I’d be home for dinner. Dinner? Was he cooking dinner? Yes?
Amen! That was all we needed to hear.
Within 15 minutes, we were sitting at my dining room table eating an unbelievably delicious non-dairy stroganoff (didn’t know it could be done!) with turkey meatballs, rice noodles and a spinach salad. We opened another bottle of wine and sat for two hours telling my son, who is now 21 and can share in our love of wine, the horror stories of our teen years. (Fodder for future blog postings, for sure!)
Nice of him to let us reminisce.
In the late eighties, my wine of choice was Sutter Home- White Zinfandel. Three bottles for $10.00! I bet anyone who drinks wine has a “Sutter Home- White Zinfandel” time period that looks nothing like their life does now.
I happened to own a Fitness Studio and was going to school full time. I was single with two little girls (3 and 4 years old) and lived in a 2 room second floor walk-up.
I went through a rough spot when I was unable to teach aerobics classes at the fitness studio or wear high heels without excruciating ankle and foot pain. I crawled, hands and knees, up fifteen steps to get to my apartment and scootched down on my bum to get to the front door. The girls thought it was a game!
When school was out for summer break, I finally had my ankle surgery. Two weeks into crutches, with my left leg in a cast, I was going bonkers. Going up and down the stairs was even harder than before because I had to drag my crutches along with me. I looked forward to the upcoming weekend when my ex would take the girls for two glorious nights. I was looking forward to the rest.
Friday night, White Zin poured, popcorn popped, book in hand, leg stretched out and elevated on a pillow, I was down for the night.
Apparently, I didn’t lock the door at the bottom of the stairs because someone was already in, up the stairs and knocking on my kitchen door. I sat there in the silence praying that the knocker would go away.
“I know you’re in there because your car’s in the driveway,” my girlfriend Tammy said.
By the time I got to the door, Tammy was sitting on the top step filing her nails.
“Took you long enough,” she said jumping up and pushing past me. “Get dressed we’re going out. You haven’t been out in months. You don’t have any homework and you don’t have the girls this weekend. We are going out. Just one drink and we’ll be back.”
Now, I loved Tammy. But one had to be prepared to go out with Tammy. It took a lot of energy to go out with Tammy.
“First of all, you never have just one drink. And, second of all, having no homework and no children is exactly why I want to stay in. Tam, I’m exhausted. Let’s hang out here, let’s play cards and drink wine.
“We can do that tomorrow night,” Tammy said as she handed me a sundress and my toothbrush.
We drove to a local watering hole. Tammy was sitting at the bar. She was already joking with the bartender by the time I hobbled up and pulled out the chair next to her.
“No, no. Sit over there.” She pointed to the chair next to the chair I pulled out. “Jeeze, you need lessons on going out. Leaving a chair empty between us leaves tons of opportunities to meet guys. They can lean in here to order a drink, they can ask to sit, at the very least they can strike up a conversation by asking one of us to move over.”
I wanted to go home then.
Within fifteen minutes, three guys were hanging around the one chair between us. Tammy was talking to all of them and giving them our drink order. The conversations were loud, and mostly irrelevant.
Tammy and one of the guys were dancing in front of the bar. There was no dance floor; however, they were dancing, and there was a floor, but… you get the idea. I could hear them talking about her exceptionally long, thick, blonde hair, then I heard Tammy laugh as she removed her exceptionally thick, blonde, clip-in hair piece and said, “If you like it so much, you can have it.”
She handed it to the guy, who draped it over his balding head. THEN, one of the other guys attempted to pull my cast off thinking that it too was for attention-getting purposes.
I did go home then.
For the past twenty-five years, I have remained great friends with Tammy and we see each other when we can. Our “nights out” consist of card games and Cabernet. At my house. With our husbands.
Helping your fourth and last child move into his first apartment after graduating college is both exciting and depressing. Thrilled that he will be paying his own bills and living independently, sad because he will be 8 states away, which means 1,200 miles, or a 20-hour drive, or a 4-hour flight (plus the two hours you need to be at the airport prior and then the one hour bus ride into New York City from JFK) so, actually a 7-hour flight away. (You can see I’ve given very little thought to this!)
It took us three trips to secure an apartment: Trip 1. We had to consider different areas of the city, then find a realtor that specialized in that area. Trip 2. We checked out apartments the realtor found, decided on one, then began the mountains of paperwork required to rent in NYC. Trip 3. Finally! We moved my son into the apartment only to discover all the things we didn’t think about when choosing a place in the city, like insects and security issues. Each trip my son auditioned for jobs, connected with friends in the business and spread the news that he had completed his BFA in Music Theatre.
Moving to NYC has been a lifelong dream of his. For him, moving to New York gives him the opportunity to become an employed actor, contributing his talents to new works and entertaining the crowds. That is what has driven him since he was 8 years old.
After a long day of travel and shopping, we sat cross-legged on the floor eating deli sandwiches from the bodega across the street, drinking wine out of mason jars, a wine that cost me $7 more for the same bottle than I pay down south, looking around at the IKEA boxes and a used mattress surrounding us as he begins his dream. The non-stop sounds from outside- sirens, cars with enhanced mufflers and busses’ diesel engines will hopefully fade into background noise over time.
The next day, his real bed and a pull-out couch was delivered. Also, the $800 worth of Bed Bath and Beyond items we purchased (including ear plugs and a fly swatter) was delivered for only ten bucks! (You gotta love NYC…It would have taken us fifteen trips on the subway to get all that stuff from mid-town to up-town!) His roomie (who is currently out on tour) had already acquired an apartment sized table with four chairs which will just have to do for the two over-six- foot-tall actors.
We prepared for battle. On all fours, with a screw driver in hand, singing to the “Dear Evan Hansen” soundtrack, my son put together his six-drawer dresser. I’ve never seen him happier (even with all that swearing and damning of drawers going on!)
I, on the other hand, began scrubbing the kitchen and bathroom. Let’s just say there was no "too early" to start drinking wine that day! It took us a total of four days to get most things delivered and set up.
My girlfriend showed up on the last night and put her interior design degree to work rearranging furniture for efficiency in the small but much appreciated apartment. Surprisingly, we only went through one bottle of wine as we put together two book cases and a night stand while my son was out visiting friends and going to a show-it’s all about networking, you know!
The following morning, we packed up and prepared his room for a friend who was going to sub-lease it for the next few months. Wouldn’t you know it, my son’s first professional job after college turned out to be in our home town in Florida!
During National Poetry month (April), I had the amazing opportunity to attend a night of poetry and prose at a forward-thinking spa. I say forward-thinking because The Four Pillars is an all-encompassing spa, “the place to go to learn, relax, energize and reinvent,” with goals to enhance your Mind, Body, Spirit, and Social Connections. Brilliant!
Amongst fine Italian wine, cheese, and fruit, twenty or so strangers sat in honor of Italian poet Piero Rivolta. We dissolved into Mr. Rivolta’s passion of exploration and questioning of life. His thoughts and considerations brought us along on journeys and deep into memories. Through his writings, it was as if we were there in Milano with snow falling on the plains, or stepping into the ancient Bresso Park, or sailing the Atlantic Ocean with him.
One attendee stated that while listening to Mr. Rivolta's endearing Italian accent as he read, she was brought back to her Italian grandfather’s side, many, many years ago, as he explained that even after he was gone, they both would be looking at the same stars.
“With unabashed simplicity, I made my choice: My country would be the free world, my religion love, and my law the mutual respect of feelings.” (“Leaving an Alpine Shelter” from Just One Scent the Rest is God)
This quote from the poet himself who has lived many lives in this one lifetime. He has designed and built luxury sport cars and custom yachts, raised jumping horses, developed residential communities and commercial buildings, and co-founded an international music festival. Piero Rivolta is a true modern day renaissance man! And yet, even with all his success on two continents and crossing the Atlantic, he wishes his legacy to be his words.
With the sun’s smile
and the wind’s caress
you may just
end up burned:
in a storm,
you may be revived.
With this thought from “The Storm” in Just One Scent the Rest is God Piero led us to believe that life is what we perceive and that is what gives us freedom. If you choose to be happy, those around you will be happy and if you choose to love, you will be loved in return.
I belong to a “wine-honoring” group of 5 gorgeous, prime of their life women, who meet a couple evenings a week. We call ourselves “THE 5 O'CLOCK SOMEWHEREs.” We meet at various watering holes for a sip and a chat. One particular evening, we were popping a cork to celebrate one of our funniest member’s birthdays in the outdoor seating area of a local restaurant.
Lots of laughing, whooping, and an occasional naughty word would grab the attention of passersby – all wondering who we are and no-doubt wishing they could join us, if not be us. After much carrying on, and with our laughter increasing in volume with each sip of wine, one of us noticed two young police officers coming our way.
Birthday Girl says, “I think we’re about to be arrested for causing a public disturbance.” She nods in the direction of the two uniformed hunks who could easily pass as one of our sons.
“Surprise, here come your birthday strippers!” I said in jest.
Birthday Girl, thrilled with anticipation, turned her chair to face the officers.
The two officers proceeded to pass us by, hands on hips and seemingly unaware of what I had said, as we nearly fell off our chairs laughing and hugging our bellies to keep from peeing our pants.
Birthday Girl could hardly contain herself. Very disappointed that they ignored us, she jumped out of her chair, marched over and stepped in front of the officers.
“Hi. It’s my birthday. Are you my strippers?”
“Ma'am, please take two steps back.” Officer Blonde held one hand out to stop her and placed his other hand on his holster.
“Show us both your hands,” Officer Brunette shouted, taking a wide stance.
Birthday Girl froze in place, arms in the air. Actually, we all froze in place and silence took over.
“Ahh, we’re just kidding.” Officer Blonde relaxed and smiled, waving to our table.
“Surprise! Happy Birthday,” Officer Burnette said as he reached up to bring Birthday Girl’s arms back down by her side. Apparently, this wasn’t the first time someone asked if they were strippers.
Even though we are at the age when we could be wearing Depends, no one had needed them before that day. Laughter is the best medicine when taken with good friends, even if it puts you in an embarrassing situation!
Kyle Ann Robertson
Retired, mother of four, grandmother of two, dog lover, yoga attempter, avid writer and wine drinker!