Definition - What does Sommelier Knife mean?
A sommelier knife is another name for a corkscrew or a wine key. This is a tool used by professional servers and sommeliers to open a bottle of wine that has a cork for a closure. The basic tools on a sommelier knife include a small knife blade, a corkscrew, a lever and a handle.
WineFrog explains Sommelier Knife
Sommelier knives have many variations and are made from many materials; wood, metal, bone, or combinations of the three. Some more expensive wine keys may also be made from precious metals like gold or silver and have inlaid gemstones.
Regardless, they all have the same function; to remove the foil and cork from a bottle.
The term corkscrew is not synonymous with a sommelier knife, but, a corkscrew does make up part of the device. This is the curled piece of metal which is used to help remove the cork.
The knife on the sommelier knife may be smooth or serrated. Some sommeliers prefer one or the other. This is used to cut the foil from the bottle. The tool also has a lever with one or two moving parts. Once the corkscrew is screwed into the center of the cork, the tip of the lever is secured on the lip of the bottle so the cork can be lifted out.
It is believed that the sommelier knife was derived from the "gun worm," which was used by musket-men so they could remove unspent charges from the musket barrel. However, the real patent was granted in 1795 to Reverend Samuell Henshall from England.