Recently, I received a wine opener as a gift. My regular sipping mates know that my curiosity about things wine extend to wine accessories and wine-related books as well. So occasionally I get new additions to my little collection of wine-related nick-nacks when they come across something new or interesting.
This wine opener was bought locally at a fair in the east for around $30. Its lightweight, though slightly bulky to fit into a pocket. It works on a slightly different principle from a waiter's corkscrew (which tends to be used more frequently in most places in Singapore).
A handy circular foil cutter is provided to remove the top layer of foil found atop wine bottles. Then you insert fully a thin long 'hollow needle' into the exposed cork till the needle pierces through the cork at the other end. Lastly, you extend the handle attached to the needle and start pumping air into the bottle. When sufficient air pressure builds up at the bottle neck (in between the space between the bottom of a cork and the surface of wine in a bottle), the cork gets 'forced' upwards and comes off the bottle.
It's easy to use, even for those new to uncorking a bottle of wine. One advantage this 'pump-opener' has over a waiter's corkscrew is the fact that a cork can be removed from a bottle without 'bending' the cork at all (it leaves a bottle 'upright'). This greatly reduces the chance of a cork breaking mid-way when one is attempting to uncork a bottle. It therefore makes for an ideal opener when uncorking an aged bottle of wine (where at times the corks tend to be soft).
However I notice 2 problems when using this at home. Firstly, at times it can't securely fit unto a wine bottle (in which case you have no choice but to rely on other types of corkcrews you have at home). Secondly, occasionally there are times when all the pumping effort does not budge a cork at all (the air obviously is escaping but it is difficult to find out how).
I find this a handy opener to have at home rather than one to bring it around when I go out to town for sipping expeditions. However, if I am bringing along some old bottles where the corks may be soft, I will be tempted to throw a wine pump-opener into my bag ... just in case.