For the Well-Stocked Bar, an Ingenious Corkscrew and Retriever

Times Staff Writer

In ancient civilization, one basic tool was a blade of flint, and it performed. We’ve come a long way from that as we continue to create things out of necessity.

In other words, when there’s a strong need, creativity sparks. While working as a waiter on a cruise ship more than a year ago, Edoardo Turati recognized the problem of losing the cork inside wine bottles. He came up with an ingenious idea of a cork retriever that has been attracting a lot of attention for the last several months.

Not only does it retrieve corks, but the new Wine Waiter from Wine Waiter Products Inc. in San Rafael doubles as a corkscrew gadget. The first bar tool with this dual purpose, the Wine Waiter is almost weird-looking. Picture an octopus with its legs sucking up a cork in water; that’s how I relate to this tool. But it works.

Gadget Is 6 1/2 Inches Long


Made of Food and Drug Administration-approved nylon combined with a nickel-plated steel cork spiral, the Wine Waiter measures about 6 1/2 inches long. Soft and pliable nylon legs are first held in a closed position in a long tube or sleeve to fit inside the wine bottle. Then, when the tube is slid into the wine, the legs spring open to retrieve the cork. At the other end of the tool is a corkscrew, which can be detached from the unit with a counterclockwise motion.

An ideal gift, the Wine Waiter comes packaged in an attractive bright pink and black compact box.

Save those “stars” or bubbles in sparkling Champagne with a bottle resealer, another invention that popped up in the bar tool collection about three years ago.

J and F Imports’ Champagne Stopper has a chrome-plated finish, whereas Williams Sonoma’s Champagne Recork is 24-karat gold-plated. Both products are imported from Italy. J and F’s Champagne Stopper has a rubber washer that presses down onto the bottle opening to seal in the air as the levers are pulled down. To release, the levers are pulled up. The gold-plated Champagne Recork has a thick plastic seal that easily clamps onto the neck of the bottle.


Handy Lighting Aide

A lighter or a match can be a necessary tool for many people. One of the handiest lighting gadgets to have around the kitchen is a gas lighter or igniter. Eliminate the need to keep matches in the kitchen, patio or fireplace with this long-handled tool. Its length prevents you from stretching with a match when lighting barbecue grills, fireplaces, gas ranges and pilot lights. Rather than exerting repeated efforts with short stick matches, the gas lighter is handy for lighting birthday candles, particularly for a lot of candles at the same time.

Available in this category are J and F Imports’ (Chef Major) gas lighter featuring a stainless steel conduit attached to a white handle with a black switch. To ignite, the switch is pushed forward. A separate small switch adjusts for high and low flame.

Another gas igniter comes from A.K. Das and Co. Inc., which introduced its Flicka Flame early this year. The product is made of rustproof galvanized steel of black matte finish attached to a handle that is available in four colors: red, yellow, white and green. The flame is ignited by pressing a black switch. For a safety feature, there’s a separate shut-off switch, which is also the control for flame variance. Both products use butane fuel, which is commonly used in regular lighters.

The Wine Waiter has a suggested retail price of $9.95 and is available at Company’s Coming in Santa Monica and Gelson’s Market chain stores.

The gold-plated Champagne Recork is available at Williams-Sonoma for $6.50. J and F Imports chrome-plated Champagne Stopper has a suggested retail price of $3.20 and is available at Gelson’s stores.

The gas igniter Flicka Flame from A.K. Das and Co. Inc. has a suggested retail price of $12.99 and is available at By Design, the Broadway and May Co. The gas lighter from J and F Imports has a suggested retail price of $13.99 and is available at Gelson’s stores and Walbert and Co.