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Finally! A fast and inexpensive way to remove a cork from a wine bottle!
March 14, 2012 5:35 AM   Subscribe

Wine De-Corking Machine: designed by mechanical sculptor Rob Higgs, this amazingly elaborate Rube Goldberg styled device weighs over 770 pounds and took about three years to build.

This is a longer clip of it in action, and some footage of the build can be found here.

[via]
posted by quin (42 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
And here I am using a corkscrew like a fucking idiot!?!
posted by Fizz at 5:35 AM on March 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


(US)Rube Goldberg = (UK)Heath Robinson
posted by Segundus at 5:43 AM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


In the build video, you see him casting iron copies of the found items he built the original out of.
posted by DU at 5:47 AM on March 14, 2012


I am unimpressed. It requires a filth-bedecked and likely disease infested workman to operate. No steam-engine to power it safely and hygenically? What are we, luddites?
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:48 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


But finally there is a way to open bottles of wine!
posted by fuq at 6:06 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is far too slow, too big, too much manual labor, makes too much noise, and I'm certain costs to much.

IOW, it's pretty much perfect in all ways.
posted by eriko at 6:08 AM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Love the title, thanks OP for making my dreary morning a bit better.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:11 AM on March 14, 2012


(US)Rube Goldberg = (UK)Heath Robinson

= (ES) Los Grandes Inventos del TBO = (DK) Storm P Maskine = (TR) Zihni Sinir Proceleri.
posted by zamboni at 6:25 AM on March 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


Hold on! The bottle he started with had the foil already removed. How are we to remove the foil?
posted by hydrophonic at 6:36 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hold on! The bottle he started with had the foil already removed. How are we to remove the foil?

Steampunk helper monkeys.
posted by Fizz at 6:41 AM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seriously, fuck corks. Whenever I visit wineries, I try to work in a remark about how much I hate corks.

(It's actually a troll to get the winery staff to say something about tradition. Then I get to retort with a line about California wines being sticklers for tradition. I'm such a dick sometimes.)
posted by ryanrs at 6:42 AM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does it actually change the flavour profile of the wine? I know that the fermentation process in the cask/barrel is key but screw off tops really are fucking awesome when you just want to enjoy the wine and not worry about fucking it up and having little bits of wood in your glass.
posted by Fizz at 6:49 AM on March 14, 2012


Seriously, fuck corks.

When I opened one bottle of champagne a year, I hated corks. Now that I open a bottle of wine a week, I love corks. Screw tops feel so cheap. Not just because of tradition either: the actual metal is so thing and weak. Plus cork is renewable! I assume!
posted by DU at 6:53 AM on March 14, 2012


Stelvin screwcaps are less permeable to oxygen than natural cork, so that might affect the aging process slightly over long periods of time. On the other hand, it prevents 'corking' which is a fairly common wine fault (1% of bottles?).
posted by ryanrs at 6:56 AM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Clearly what we need is the Zork!
posted by Fizz at 6:57 AM on March 14, 2012


Does it actually change the flavour profile of the wine?

I believe corks are essential for wines like serious claret, which needs to mature in botle for five years or more; for the rest (basically everything I drink) it makes no difference.

I've been told I should buy fewer corks so that the limited supply of cork can go to serious wine; I've also been told I should buy more corks so that the cork-oak forests aren't grubbed up, with the destruction of a unique habitat. No idea which, if either, is correct.
posted by Segundus at 6:57 AM on March 14, 2012


Well I drink several bottles of wine per week, and I say screwcaps are better. So there!
posted by ryanrs at 6:58 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


(On a serious note, the type of bottle closure is the least important factor in my wine purchasing.)
posted by ryanrs at 7:00 AM on March 14, 2012


Real men drink their wine out of bags. Delicious, delicious bags.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 7:02 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't know why anyone would replace cork. Its perfectly sustainable and renewable. Trees aren't even cut down. The bark is just stripped off and the tree regenerates it.
posted by vacapinta at 7:04 AM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Because corks are unsanitary and spoil wine.
posted by ryanrs at 7:10 AM on March 14, 2012


How cork is made.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:10 AM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Real men drink their wine out of bags.

Or straight from the polyethylene terephthalate container they made it in.*.



* Actually I have a two handed corking doohickey for re-using bottles from store-bought wine.
posted by titus-g at 7:22 AM on March 14, 2012


Why doesn't the machine sniff the cork like a neophyte idiot for me as well?
posted by supercres at 7:22 AM on March 14, 2012


God that machine is gorgeous.
posted by Uncle at 7:26 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another benefit to a screw cap is that, if you're careful not to mangle it, you can replace it. Replacing a cork opened with a screw is mostly pointless. A cork puller can remove a cork without damaging it, but they're not very common and a bit trickier to use than a modern corkscrew.
posted by jedicus at 7:26 AM on March 14, 2012


I wonder if he can make me a mechanical friend?
posted by bicyclefish at 7:27 AM on March 14, 2012


Hold on! The bottle he started with had the foil already removed. How are we to remove the foil?

Curses! Foiled Again!

Wait until next time, wine bottle. BWHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH!
posted by eriko at 7:27 AM on March 14, 2012


I wonder if he can make me a mechanical friend?

Best. Euphemism. EVAR.
posted by eriko at 7:27 AM on March 14, 2012


I hear Apple's version has a touchscreen AND comes in four colours.
posted by Phreesh at 7:30 AM on March 14, 2012


How do you think those corks get into the bottles in the first place? They have to be soaked. If the oenanology industry switches to screwcaps, it could blow thousands of corksoakers out of job.
 
posted by Herodios at 7:36 AM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


It put me in the mind of Fr. Sarducci's endorsement of Mister Tea: "Just add a tea bag and boiling water and Mister Tea does the rest."

Lever-the-ness, this elegant contraption is a real corker in every sense, and it makes me happy to see that people still do stuff like this. Thanks for the morning chuckle.
 
posted by Herodios at 7:51 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Corks vs screwcaps is one of those wine nerd debates that has no simple answers.

There have been some recent scandals with bad/cheap cork producers leading to wine spoilage rates over 5% in some cases. However, even with good quality control, the normal spoilage rates are something like 1-2% with natural cork. The reaction from the cork companies has been to produce synthetic composite corks, chips pressed and glued together, which can pretty much be guaranteed to be TCA-free.

So, completely natural corks do have unacceptably high "corkage" rates even with good attention to detail. However, manufactured "corks" to avoid that problem.

Corks cost more money than screw caps, but for most wines, the problem is one of market acceptance---buyers expect wines to have a cork. For most wines intended to be drunk immediately, screwcaps are a pretty big improvement over natural cork. The benefits over synthetic corks, however, are more marginal.

Screw tops have real problems of their own, however: as they are such a good seal, wine will not age properly in a screw top bottle (at least with current technology), and that screwcaps have a higher CO2 burden than corks.
posted by bonehead at 8:13 AM on March 14, 2012


When I saw the glass placed my heart jumped as I imagined that this elaborate machine started out with an ingenious design that in the mind of the creator would one day titillate both the art world and wine corking snobs in one fell swoop.

I imagined this man in his shop toiling far into the night. Day after day he comes face to face with the folly of his designs. The man painstakingly replaces feature after feature with whatever seems to work. Through blood, sweat, and muffled profanities that are increasingly more worrisome to the man's amazingly supportive wife, the machine slowly morphs into a hulking mass of metal that's only successful method of opening a wine bottle is to smash it into it into a billion tiny fragments of silica. Realizing that his once beautiful design has devolved into what can only be called a monstrosity, the creator yells, "Fuck it! Good enough!", and drinks heartily from a glass of wine filtered through a dirty shop cloth from the broken bottle into the cup below.

Apparently this man's projects are more successful than my own.
posted by Quack at 8:33 AM on March 14, 2012


All I could think was the woman who was filming this was either desperately trying to bang that inventor or an alcoholic.

Or both.
posted by fullerine at 9:07 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, completely natural corks do have unacceptably high "corkage" rates even with good attention to detail.

1-2% is "unacceptably high"? Talk about the perfect being the enemy of the good.
posted by DU at 9:25 AM on March 14, 2012


In this estimate, a $15 bottle nets a buck and change to a vintner, about a 6-7% return per bottle. A defect rate of 1 or 2% cuts the wine-maker's take-home pay by 15 to 30%.
posted by bonehead at 9:47 AM on March 14, 2012


Yeah, no, ignore that. My math is screwed up.
posted by bonehead at 9:49 AM on March 14, 2012


I dunno, there's no way this thing's gonna fit in the kitchen gadget drawer. On the plus side it'll be hard to misplace.
posted by calamari kid at 10:51 AM on March 14, 2012


(On a serious note, the type of bottle closure is the least important factor in my wine purchasing.)

For most wines intended to be drunk immediately, screwcaps are a pretty big improvement over natural cork.

Exactly.

I would say the label is the least important factor. I'm mostly with you (a good wine is a good wine, or less discriminatorily, a wine I enjoy is a wine I enjoy), but all things equal (i.e. white wine), I'll generally pick the screwtop over the cork. Terra Savia is a recent $10 selection I enjoy, but organic and unoaked Chard are big pluses for me.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:06 PM on March 14, 2012


I don't know why you are all talking about screw-tops as though they are the only alternative to natural corks, because what I'm seeing is a steady transition from natural to synthetic corks. Maybe it's just the wines I like to buy, but I would guess that a third to a half of the bottles I open have synthetic corks, with screw-tops holding steady at a few percent of the total. As far as I can tell it's just wines from Australia and New Zealand that use screw-tops.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:06 AM on March 15, 2012


I need a bottle of wine just watching this
posted by travelwire at 6:06 PM on March 22, 2012


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