Category Archives: WineOpener


Dorianne and I have been on the road since March, in Europe and the U.S., and I have been blogging along the way. I thought it might be helpful to do a post about Wine Tips for Travelers.

And, of course, if you love wine travel – join me for our Tour of Bordeaux, Paris, and Champagne in March (LINK).


The best travel corkscrew that I have found is this little gem, The Boomerang, I purchased for $6.99. After having a number of corkscrews confiscated by TSA agents at U.S. airports, I began to look for one that did not have a knife blade as a foil cutter. This one has four discs that cut very evenly around the top of the foil. The corkscrew itself seems a bit fragile, but I have opened over 100 bottles with it with no sign of it slowing down. I do, however, carry a backup.

2015-10-21 13.20.47 2015-10-21 13.20.56 2015-10-21 13.21.07

The history since 9-11 is that all corkscrews were originally banned from carry-on luggage because of the knife blade as a foil cutter AND the corkscrew itself. This was relaxed a few years ago, but the ban on the knife blade has continued.

Since I always take a corkscrew with me and I fly dozens of times a year, I needed to find one that I could take in my carry-on luggage, because, well, you never know. A case in point – I was flying across country, and a friend happened to be one of the
flight attendants. My wife and I were in coach. The flight attendant brought us a package wrapped in plastic bags and said, “Mr. Lockard, you left this in the front of the plane.” Opening it, I found a bottle of very nice Chardonnay and two glasses from the first class cabin. My corkscrew was in the pocket of my backpack under the seat in front of me!

I have also blogged about the Best Corkscrew (LINK), the Cork Pops Legacy Wine Opener, but that model, being powered by gas capsules, is not suitable for travel. If you can only afford one of these, get the traveler – it’s much cheaper, and you can use it at home or on the road.


There are a couple of things that you might want to know about taking wine with you on airlines and cruise ships. First, is how to pack the wine so that it is safe and does not spill onto the contents of your suitcase.

Many times, I have traveled with wine bottles in my checked luggage. What I usually do, if it is just a bottle or two, is either use a special wine bottle protector, or, absent that, wrap the wine in some clothing like a sweatshirt or a bathrobe (what, you don’t travel with a bathrobe?). It is best, of course, to have the protector.

If you are flying with more wine, like a case or so, it is best to get wine luggage and check it through. There are a number of products on the market. I like Lazenne (LINK), a light but stable product that works great for most uses. They also make wine bottle protectors.

Lazenne Wine Case Suitcase
Lazenne Wine Case Suitcase
Wine Bottle Protector
Wine Bottle Protector

I did a blog post on bringing wine into the U.S. and customs duties, etc. Here is the (LINK TO THAT POST). Actually, duties on wine are lower than you might expect, and paying the extra airline fee, if there is one, to ship a case of wine is a relative bargain.

Cruise ships can be another story. Oceangoing cruise lines often have a policy restricting bringing alcohol on board. If you make purchases on shore excursions, the booze is often taken upon re-boarding and held until you disembark. You can usually get away with having some wine in your luggage initially, but that will, of course, be somewhat limited. If you are concerned about this, check with the cruise line to see what their policy is.

River cruises are often different. We recently went on a Viking Cruise Lines (LINK) ship on the Rhine River. We were encouraged to bring wine purchases aboard to have with dinner – no corkage fees. The reason for this is that this cruise offers complimentary wine with meals, so any wine that you bring on board saves them money. I still liked the policy, and we did bring some wine on board to consume.


I am not a big fan of any of the wine apps I have used so far. I guess the best is Delectable (LINK), which lets you scan the label and view a bit of info and any other reviews that happen to have been posted. It also lets you review the wine. The problem is that, while it recognizes most wines that you find only in Europe, there is a paucity of information and very few, if any reviews on them.

For locating wine venues, from wine bars to châteaus to good wine restaurants, I use and occasionally, and These work as well in Europe as in the U.S., meaning that they are okay, not really great. Better to find a local wine bar or wine shop, make friends with the bartender or proprietor and ask questions about the local wine scene. If you know of something better, please leave a comment to this post.


While wine has become more and more prevalent in many parts of the world, there are some places where wine either isn’t available, isn’t good when it is available, or is so pricey that there are better options.

We were in Iceland (LINK TO THAT POST) in May for a few days. There is wine there, but it is extremely expensive due to shipping costs and UK duties on New World Wines. As my post at the time indicates, we found some great local beers and did just fine.

Prague is near some decent wine regions, particularly in Hungary, but I found that my lack of knowledge of the local wines was a problem. So we went with the huge array of excellent beers there as well.

Next month, we head to Oaxaca, Mexico for a month of Spanish Immersion Classes and the amazing cuisine of that region (think chocolate, mole sauces, and coffee). Not a wine region in sight, and if there is wine, it will be served at room temperature – about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. No, we will stick with beer and the fantastic Mescals of the area.


So my tips include:

  1. Take a good travel corkscrew and a backup.
  2. Select one or two good options for carrying wine with you.
  3. Learn your online and local wine resources.
  4. Remember – when there isn’t wine, there is always something else.

So never let your travels be dictated by your own failure to prepare. Sampling the local wines when you travel is a great experience (even if the wines aren’t always so good), and the people in the wine industry, from the vineyards to the retail shops, have been great people wherever we have traveled.

We aren’t done. After Cleveland, we head to Southern California, then Mexico, then Hawaii, then Southern and Northern California through January – then, who knows? But you can be sure that I will be blogging all the way.

Journey to French Wine Country 2


Which Wine Opener to buy is always a big issue. Like most wine lovers, I have quite a few, not counting the half dozen or so now in the possession of the TSA.

A while back, I was given the Cork Pops Legacy Wine Opener, a gas-operated little gem that includes a foil cutter in its excellent design. Priced around $25 to $30, this gadget makes opening wine a joy, even with tricky corks. This isn’t a corkscrew, as it has no screw – just a straight hollow needle that pierces the cork and puts gas between the cork and the wine to force the cork easily out of the bottle neck.

The Cork Pops Legacy Wine Opener
The Cork Pops Legacy Wine Opener

It works like this. You can use the foil cutter (four sharp disks on the bottom of the legs) to remove the foil cap, then push the needle through the center of the cork. Once the device is fully seated on the bottle, you simply press the top with your thumb. This activates the gas canister and pushes gas into the bottle, easily removing most corks. The taste and aroma of the wine are unaffected. To remove the cork, you twist the opener where the legs join the body, and the cork slides back down the needle.

This has become my go-to wine opener at home, and I have given several as gifts.

Now, let’s look at some drawbacks.

1. This device does not travel well. It comes in a clear plastic case, so taking it to a friend’s home or on a picnic will work. But you can’t take the opener with gas on an airplane, so you will still need a good travel opener if you are flying.

2. The Legacy does not work on large format bottles or with very long corks where the needle cannot get all the way through (a very small percentage of corks, fortunately). Nor will with work with bottles that have a wax cap over the cork – you might bend the needle trying to push it through the wax, and the wax makes the bottle neck too wide to fit the device over it.

3. Some have reported problems using it with plastic corks, although I have never had a problem with this.

4. You have to develop a bit of a “touch” with this opener. Too much force on the top of the canister (which is the “button” you push) and too much gas goes into the bottle causing the cork to fly out of the bottle often followed by some wine. It may take a bottle or two to practice with – start with the “value” wines.

Beyond that, I have nothing but good things to say about this wine opener. If you have any experiences with this one or with an opener that you like better, please comment.


Link:   The Most Hipster Way to Open a Bottle of Wine

Wine Opening

Jonathan Ross, a sommelier at Eleven Madison Park, is responsible for resurrecting the old world tradition of using heated tongs to open wine.

Placing the red hot metal around the neck, it makes a clean break leaving the cork intact. The method originated in Portugal as an alternative to opening very old bottles of wine with corks that tended to crumble from age.