ABCs of X-Mas Special

F is for foil cutter

It's frustrating, isn't it, when the only thing between you and a much-needed glass of wine is a stubborn layer of foil? Hermetically plastered to the top of the bottle, it guards the cork and probably serves some purpose related to sanitation, but at a moment of thirst, it is simply annoying.

So you stab it with a knife and try to peel it off, playing havoc with the aesthetics of the bottle and threatening your thumb in the process.

Professional wine servers use the tiny knife attached to their corkscrews to cleanly cut the foil from the top of the bottle. The untrained, however, would probably maul flesh doing that, which is why the foil cutter was invented.

These are nifty gadgets with protected blades that you simply place atop a bottle, squeeze and turn. The foil lifts off with no possibility of injury.

This Screwpull device makes easy work of wine-bottle foil.

Foil cutters come in many styles, but the one generally recognized as best is the Screwpull (about $9 at Executive Chef or Compleat Kitchen). You can also find foil cutters in shapes of discs and animals, or attached to corkscrews, at prices as low as $4. Check wine shops, liquor stores and kitchen specialty shops.

A foil cutter is great for a stocking stuffer or secret-Santa gift for anyone who opens at least a couple bottles of wine a week. It's also a nice accompaniment to a gift of wine.

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