Get a Grip: A Cool Way to Reuse Your Wine Corks

10/09/2013 at 12:18 PM ET

The Kitchn wine cork pot gripper
Courtesy The Kitchn

Maxwell Ryan is the founder of Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn, a web magazine about home cooking and kitchen design. Visit Wednesdays for his spins on celebrity recipes and more. 

In our house when I was growing up, my mother squeezed wine corks underneath all of her pot lid handles. The lids sat by the stove with corks bursting out of them like weenies at a roast. Seeing this when you came into the kitchen had a romantic, boy-have-we-drunk-a-lot-of-wine appeal (which I totally got), but it wasn’t until I started cooking that I understood why they were really there.

Even with the best-designed pots and lids, the handles can get so hot during cooking that your hand is easily burned if you don’t think quickly enough to throw on an oven mitt. My mom’s little cork trick gets rid of the need for a mitt. The corks stay cool and create the nicest grip you could possibly imagine to lift the lid.

The corks age gracefully, standing up to water, oil and heat. They also make the lids look totally pro, giving everyone the impression (correctly, I’m sure) that you really know what you’re doing in the kitchen—aside from drinking a lot of wine.

Here are the simple two-step instructions to make your own wine cork pot grippers:

1. Make sure that your pot lids are full handles with space to slip corks underneath them. Most metal pots are of this style, but glass lids tend to favor the round knob at the top.

2. Select 2-3 standard wine corks (avoid plastic corks, which don’t look as nice). Squeeze two corks under the handle. Attempt to squeeze in the third cork by wedging it between the first two. Even if it’s snug, three will usually fit and you’ll get a tight trio with the ends popping out, creating a nice stable grip.

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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Showing 6 comments

Robin on

I know I’m dense…but I don’t get how this helps you to pick UP the lid. I understand how it would keep the handle cooler, but how could you GRIP the lid?

crystal on

I guess we are both dense because I am wondering the same thing!

Jbp on

You grip the corks instead if the handle

Roman on

This method not to get your hands burned was invented in USSR I guess a century ago 🙂

Tiara Klinko on

Robert on

Its a wonderful idea. There is an organization called CORKCLUB, they also used to collect wine cork and their aim is to increase the wine cork recycling by collecting the corks and donating money to help preserve the Earth. For more info visit

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