It was Christmas.
I had one gift on my wish list—a special little trinket that comes in a small box, if you know what I mean. So it was certainly time for a celebration when my dearest friend and I finally exchanged gifts and he handed me that beautifully wrapped small box.
It helped that I handed him one, too—in fact, the boxes we exchanged were exactly the same size and shape. Could it be that we’d gotten each other matching, longed-for gifts? Had we each given the other that special piece you just don’t want to buy for yourself?
We had. And we shared a big laugh as we opened the same present, the one we’d both wanted: The Durand.
A wholly unique corkscrew, the Durand was designed to solve a common problem, especially for old bottles: the crumbling cork. Over the past several years, it has become an essential tool for collectors and fine restaurants alike. Invented by Atlanta-based wine lover Mark Taylor, and named for the legendary, late sommelier Yves Durand, the Durand is made of two parts—a classic corkscrew “worm” with a crossbar (which they call a “helix”), and a two-pronged corkpuller usually referred to as an “Ah-so.”
When opening an old bottle with a Durand, you first twist the worm into the cork, just as you would with any other corkscrew. You then work the two-pronged puller onto the cork, easing it slowly downward to the bottle rim. The two cross bars should meet at a 90-degree angle.
Once both the worm and the two-pronged puller are seated, then you pull up on both handles, twisting slightly as you would with any fragile cork. The genius of this invention is that the pulling force, coming from both the outer edge and inside of the cork, allows the entire cork to pull out in one piece, preventing the common problem of breakage at the bottom. The company’s website offers some fun video of the thing in action, accompanied by soothing Vivaldi. There are tantalizing cameos by such legendary stars as a 1966 Taylor Fladgate port, a 1947 Lafite Rotschild, and a few Chateau Latours from the 1970s.
While an experienced somm can usually achieve the same result with just a waiter’s key or an ah-so, fragile corks in old bottles still crumble. Those of us who don’t pull corks on special bottles every day appreciate a little extra bit of help.
At $125, the Durand comes in its own clever cork storage box and—trust me here—makes for a really nice gift.