by Beth Heiserman
Did you ever wonder how people opened a bottle of wine before corkscrews? Since winemaking has been around for 8,000 years, you would think that efficient wine storage would have had more progression. But then again, most wine is still made the same way in some parts of the world. For many centuries, the winery would sell barrels to stores and the stores would bottle as they sold it.
Kenelm Digby is considered the creator of the commercial wine bottle. In the 1630s, Digby manufactured wine bottles which had a tapered neck, a collar and a punt. Digby’s bottles were much more durable than what was available. He made them in green or brown color, which protected the contents from light. In 1662 parliament recognized his invention for the modern wine bottle.
The original corkscrews were called “worms.” They had handles and what attached in the center was a pointed helix. You would screw the worm into the cork and extract it. Corkscrews became necessary, as it was difficult to remove a cork. Its original design was derived from a tool that was used by the musket men to remove gunpowder from charges that were unsuccessful. In 1681, it seems to be the earliest reference to a corkscrew, referring to the “steel worm” used for removing corks.
In 1795, a patent for the first corkscrew was issued in England. This alteration from the original had a disk attached, which prevented the worm to go in too far and get stuck. Then, in 1802, the next patent was issued for a single hinged corkscrew in 1882. From there you had the single-lever, double-hinged, screw pull, winged and all the modern styles including the “rabbit.”