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Screwing Around

Originally called bottle-screws, corkscrews were invented in England between 1630 and 1675, where they were used not for wine, but for beer and cider. Both sparklers required tight-fitting corks (often tied on) capable of holding in the gas. Such corks, forced deep into the necks of bottles, often proved impossible to extract without the help of some kind of tool. The first such tool took its inspiration from a gun. Manufacturing records from the 1630s describe a bullet-extracting “worm” supplied with pistols. The English manufacturers of these worms also made corkscrews. In the 1800s, with the discovery that wine matures favorably in bottles laid down on their sides, corks began to be fully driven into wine bottles for a leakproof fit. Corkscrews became indispensable.

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