In the name of convenience, bottle openers have snuck their way into objects they should have never crossed with, from belt buckles to hat brims to the dreaded (and unsanitary) flip-flop bottoms. But for every popper flop, there is an elegant opener that combines modern design and clever ergonomics to create a statement piece that will stand the test of hundreds of beverages. Areaware designer Brendan Ravenhill's own rustic woodblock-and-nail opener has gone through more than 1,000 bottles. "This is material that is meant to be used," he says. "A big chunk of walnut feels like a handle and lasts for a long time."
The bottle opener's classier cousin, the corkscrew, is battling obsolescence, thanks to the advent of screw-top bottles. But wine lovers can enthuse over stately tools such as Umbra's sculptural corkscrew, whose wavelike shape was inspired by the fluid movement of liquid grape. "People like the romance of wine," says Terry McGuire, a Chicago distributor of specialty wine products. "They want a cork in it. It's all part of the ceremony of drinking."
A version of this article appeared in the December 2011/January 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.