Jancis Robinson – Travel Corkscrew

Image Jancis Robinson

This corkscrew is very far from ideal. The helix should ideally be hollow so that it doesn’t pierce a hole right through the cork. And the tip of the screw should be even sharper in an ideal world. But the great advantage of this particular model (the only one like it I have ever seen) is that it is not picked up and confiscated by airport security because it’s made of some heavy-duty plastic rather than metal. It’s also usefully compact and light.

I haven’t used it all that often but when I have, it does the business. I don’t, in all honesty, find I need a corkscrew all that often when I’m travelling. People tend to swamp me with open bottles almost wherever I go – professionally anyway.

But it’s great to know that if someone sends a sample to my hotel room for me to taste, for example, I can actually get into it to taste and write a note on it without having to bother hotel staff for one of their corkscrews. And if by any chance I’m travelling with no associated wine-related commitments, this corkscrew ensures that I will be able to enjoy my favourite drink. (I’m probably one of the few people who orders wine on holiday trips to Egypt and India.)

I was given it years if not decades ago at a charity quiz in London – one of the Brain Games, I think. I thought until I examined in closely just now that it was branded British Telecom because I remember the BT team winning the quiz, but I see the only lettering on it says Waiter’s Friend.

It sits in my sponge bag along with lots of little bottles of shampoo, conditioner and so on. I must say I curse the introduction of airline security checks. Because liquids in containers bigger than 100ml are banned, it’s now impossible to bring wine home unless you have checked-in luggage, and a fail-safe way of wrapping wine bottles. Red wine is no friend of clothing, whether in a suitcase or on your person. Which is why I have so few really pale clothes.

Voted the world’s most influential wine critic in polls in the US, France and internationally in 2018, Jancis views herself as a wine writer rather than a wine critic. She writes daily for jancisrobinson.com and weekly for the Financial Times. She is co founde-editor of The Oxford Companion to Wine, co-author with Hugh Johnson of The World Atlas of Wine (4.7 million copies just sold before the 8th edition was published in October 2019) and co-author of Wine Grapes, each of these books recognised as a standard reference worldwide. The 24Hour Wine Expert (2017) is a slim paperback guide to the practical essentials of wine.

She travels all over the world to conduct wine events – often for the global literacy initiative Room to Read – and in 2018 launched her own hand-made dishwasher -friendly, ideal wine glass. In 1984 she was the first person outside the wine trade to pass the rigorous Master of Wine exams and in 2003 she was awarded an OBE by Her Majesty the Queen, on whose cellar she now advises. In one week in April 2016, she was presented with France’s Officier du Mérite Agricole, the German VDP’s highest honour and, in the US, her fourth James Beard Award