Once upon a time there were two winemakers, Ron and Howard. They put their wine up in jugs and used corks as stoppers. They always took great care in leaving enough cork above the jug rim to grasp by fingertips or teeth for removal.
One Sunday afternoon, Ron and Howard, took several jugs of their wine to an outing. They were attending a mudball game that turned into quite a wild affair. Ron and Howard overindulged and were bloody drunk. When they returned to their carriage, Howard stretched out for a nap and while doing so, leaned on a jug of wine and pushed the cork down flush with the top.
They spent the night sprawled in the carriage and the next morning, Ron looked for a little of what was then known as the breath of the hare that zonked him. Ron grabbed the jug with the cork pushed in flush. Howard, what the hell have you done? yelled Ron. Howard woke up with a start. He looked at his dastardly deed and sorrowfully shook his head. All their other jugs were empty.
Ron was determined to open the jug and began to study the situation. Several minutes later he proclaimed Eureka! Howard thirstily waited for details. Ron hurriedly ran off to the vineyard at the side of the road and returned with an old piece of grapevine root. Then he took out his knife and unscrewed one of the long screws from one of the carriage boards. He then screwed that screw through the grapevine.
Ron grasped the grapevine firmly. He picked up the jug of wine and screwed the screw into the cork. He gave it a little tug. The screw came out with a little piece of cork. He screwed it again. He pulled. A little more cork was removed. The screw was tearing apart the cork. Several more attempts brought up pieces of cork and finally the remainder was forced down into the jug. Seconds later, the winemakers were drinking again!
Ron knew he was on the verge of finding a better way to extract a cork than by teeth or fingertips. He knew that he could fully seal wine with a cork and remove the cork. On the way home, they passed by a blacksmith. Ron looked at his grapevine root with screw running though it. He thought if the blacksmith could turn him a fine worm for his root, he could turn it into a cork without damaging the cork. The worm would engage the cork on each turn and pull it out without a problem.
The blacksmith and Ron made a corkscrew that worked. And that is how the corkscrew came to be.
A special thank you to my good friend Jean Pierre Lanares for the translation.
©1999 Donald Bull