I actually own two Leathermans (Leathermen), one that was given to me years ago by my dear wife and one that I found on a deserted beach on the wild side of Vancouver Island. I naturally assumed they came with corkscrews, but yesterday I had a good look, and I’ll be darned if neither of them has a corkscrew.
Now, I am not an oenophile myself, otherwise I would have realized this long ago, but I know it’s dangerous to get between a sailor and his wine. I am a beer drinker myself, having been brought up in a family where drinking fancy-schmancy wine was for poofters, though I have learned to moderate those views slightly over the intervening years. Both my Leathermans, although bereft of corkscrews, have bottle-cap removers that will remove the cap from a beer bottle with jolly ease.
The makers of beer seem better to appreciate the danger of separating a sailor from his grog, and make it relatively easy to open cans and bottles of beer, even without special bottle openers. I also know (and greatly admire) some yachties who can remove caps from beer bottles with their teeth — mostly Australians who were weaned on beer and encouraged by their dads to practice cap removal from the time the first teeth appeared in their tiny gums.
But there is little more frustrating than not being able to reap the benefit of a bottle of wine because you can’t get the damned cork out. It’s true that there are some enlightened vintners who sell wine with screw-off caps but even we beer drinkers know that the cork-pulling majority look down upon screw-off wines. They scoff even more at wine sold in boxes with plastic liners, which I think is cleverest solution to the wine drinking problem that anybody ever came up with.
Sailors are resourceful people, however, and I have heard of cases where, in extremis, they simply knocked the neck off the bottle with a hammer. You have to have a lady’s stocking handy if you do this, however, to strain the slivers of glass out of the wine, and a lady willing to donate one. Other frustrated sailors have rummaged in their tool boxes and found a long thin screw to plunge into the cork, after which a pair of pliers can be used to remove the cork with a combination of brute force and desperation.
Finally, I have to note that the latest flier from West Marine says they’re going to have a Leatherman sale soon. The price of the $115 model lacking a corkscrew has plummeted to $49.99. This is an extraordinary discount, of course. I think it must be a manifestation of lingering guilt. But no matter how far they lower the price, they’ll never be forgiven fully until the Boy Scout remover has a proper little corkscrew right alongside it.
If you find an Australian indoors, it’s a fair bet that he will have a glass in his hand.— Jonathan Aitken, Land of Fortune
TailpieceWorkers earn it, spendthrifts burn it;
Bankers lend it, women spend it;
Forgers fake it, taxes take it.
I could use it.
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