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This was one of the items we put on our wedding list when we got married, nearly five years ago now, and I'm glad we did as it comes in at a very costly £30. It is however a very cute kitchen accessory and almost too cool to use. We actually have this as sort of an item on display in our kitchen and we always get tons of compliments on it. I love the Alessi range of kitchen and household products that are available for purchase at John Lewis. The items are not just functional kitchen items, they are design triumphs and almost art works in themselves. According to an article I read, "Alessi is a kitchen utensil company from Italy. They design everyday items from plastic and stainless steel and was founded in 1921 to produce crafted products in metal for eating and drinking, by Giovanni Alessi. From the 1980s onward, Alessi has been particularly associated with the notion of "designer" objects - otherwise ordinary tools and objects executed as high design, particularly in a post-modern mode, from designers such as Philippe Starck." This corkscrew definitely has a designer look and a high design finish to it and is actually a very good corkscrew, one of the best I have owned. The corkscrew is actually in the shape of a woman, hence the name Anna. The top of the corkscrew, the portion you hold when opening the bottle is in the shape of a face and it has two small holes where the eyes are and a small smiling cut out mouth. Her "arms" are the levers of the corkscrew which lift up when you start to twist her face. She appears to be wearing a dress as well which is the portion that goes into the actual cork and over the top of the bottle you are trying to open. According to an article I read Anna has been , "a best seller since it was first produced in 1994. She is a tongue-in-cheek homage to a real woman. Her smiling face has become something of a cult figure over the years, giving birth (so to speak) to a rich family of objects for the table and kitchen in a wide range of materials. This is a very sturdy well made corkscrew. She, I call it she isn't it funny, turns into the cork well and grips the top of the bottle well so I have never had a problem with a cork breaking or not being able to be pulled out easily. Now I have finished breastfeeding I have started to drink bottles of wine again with my husband so Anna has been getting quite a workout recently. The arm levers are made of metal and are very strong as well. They are curved so you can get a really good grip on them with your hand and pull them down to pull out the cork easily. The dress she wears gives your other hand a bit of something to hold onto too so it makes it even easier to pull a cork out. All in all, a funky way to open a bottle of wine and perfect for dinner parties and a great conversation piece.
~~~Alessi Anna G Corkscrew in Red~~~ This purchase seemed a bit indulgent at the time of purchase, but it's a truly great design in terms of looks and function. Having used this corkscrew most weekends for over a year now, I really feel this was a luxury worth the price tag. ~~Look and feel~~ A pleasure to use every time, it looks stunning and requires minimal effort compared with other corkscrews. Even those pesky artificial corks yield to this device. The threaded screw easily pierces the toughest stopper, the resin 'skirt' gives maximum grip, and the 'arms' provide excellent leverage. It just feels 'the business'! It's beautifully made with quality materials. The weight of the metal, and the heavily chromed finish throughout, inspire confidence and lend a feel of luxury to opening even the most mundane bottle. ~~Designed by Italians, used by anyone?~~ Remember that Fiat car advert from the 80s 'Designed by computer, built by robots'? And the spoof that showed it being driven over a cliff with the gag '...driven by Italians!'? Well that's distinctly 'non-PC nowadays - and definitely 'not the 9 o' clock news'! But you do have to hand it to the Italians sometimes when it comes to design - whether it's their supercars, haute couture or, in this case, the not-so-humble corkscrew! It's just up to the buyer to make the best of it ... We bought this as a souvenir, a lasting reminder of a great holiday in the Italian Lakes. Every time I use this, it reminds me of Italy. The wine doesn't necessarily have to be Italian. I do tend to prefer a matching Italian red, Barolo, Barbera, Chianti - the colour goes so well with our red version of the corkscrew - but it's equally fine with a nice white Gavi or almost anything Piedmontese - or dare I say anything worth quaffing(?) I can't say I'm that particular really but we do enjoy a bottle most weekends and this definitely adds to the pleasure of the experience, along with the bargain antique glasses occasionally picked up at antique fairs. This iconic corkscrew was apparently designed in 1994 by Alessandro Mendini. It says so on the bottom of the one we bought last year in Arona, Northern Italy, not far from Milan where the designer was born. The design may not appeal to everyone, I suppose, but according to the Alessi website, the Anna G corkscrew is 'a tongue-in-cheek homage to a real woman. Her smiling face has become something of a cult figure over the years, giving birth (so to speak) to a rich family of objects for the table and kitchen in a wide range of materials.' Several colours are available, presumably to go with designer schemes or according to taste. I think the red we chose suits the purpose particularly well. The only caveat I would advise is that overenthusiastic use can make extracted corks difficult to remove from the screw. Just remember to stop if you see the point emerge through the bottom of the cork. ~~Availability & price~~ No need to go to Italy for this (though it might be a good excuse!) as it's currently available online from the Alessi website or from Amazon at £28 or £25.26 respectively. We paid something similar in Euros at the incredibly stylish shop in Arona, on Lake Maggiore, which probably merits a separate review at some point. ~~Verdict~~ A luxury worth paying for by any wine lover. ~~Advantages~~ Look and feel; a pleasure to use; not just a designer toy or tourist souvenir. ~~Disadvantages~~ Price; design may not appeal to all; overenthusiastic use can make corks difficult to remove from screw. ~~Related links~~ * Alessi UK : www.alessi.co.uk [© SteveS001, 2011. A version of this original review may be found on other review sites]