You know what it's like. You've spoken to your friends, everyone has packed smoked salmon and salad and loaves of bread. The hired junk is on a placid sea off a remote headland. The sun is shining and all is right with the world. Let's have a glass of wine. 'Where's the corkscrew, Charlie?' The corkscrew? Haven't you got it, Annie? Bob? Susan? Anyone? Oh, the lamentations. So you end up trying to poke the cork into the bottle with a chopstick or attempting to cut through a cork of the consistency of hardened steel with a butter knife. No more, says Adrian Sank, whipping out a bottle of Castle Crossing 1995, a lusty blend of shiraz, malbec and mourvedre, made by the large Alambie winery of northwest Victoria. Wine merchant Mr Sank peels off the lead foil around the top of the bottle and with a twist of his wrist, pulls up a plastic handle inserted in the cork. Give it a tug and the cork pops out. No more problems. 'Say goodbye to the corkscrew,' advises the head of Omtis wine importers. Devised by David Hojnoski, an American winemaker, the Kwik Kork changes centuries of wine lore. Opening the bottle has always been half the fun. Now it is reduced to total simplicity. No more struggles trying to strangle a recalcitrant cork. Mr Hojnoski realised his invention had to satisfy two groups with very different views. It had to offer ease of use for the occasional wine drinker while still satisfying the aesthetic demands and traditions of the winemaker. He did both. Using natural cork - guaranteeing wine quality - he spent seven years working out how to embed the plastic so when a customer felt like a drink, the cork came out with a satisfying pop. It works, as I found out with that Castle Crossing red. This company started planting premium grapes in the dry and sunny northwestern corner of Victoria almost 30 years ago, at a time when Australia was still thought of as a land of bulk cheap wines. They began selling their grapes to winemakers with distinguished reputations, then started making and marketing their own under the Salisbury Estate label. Today, the company has an impressive 615 hectares under vine and a modern, hi-tech winery pressing 20,000 tonnes of fruit a year. Under the direction of winemaker Bob Shields, who once worked for the giant Lindeman label, the company strongly follows a value-for-money ethic. And that is exactly what you find in the Castle Crossing when you pull out the cork with your bare fingers. In some ways, it's an old-fashioned wine; nose the glass and you get a lovely fruity spice aroma. There's more spice and cinnamon, along with blueberry hints, on the palate. This light ruby wine is dangerously easy to drink - compounded by the ease of opening. It's the sort of pleasing, direct wine for which Australia has long been noted and at $75 for both red and white it's a worthy buy. (Fax 2363-6014 for delivery by the case.) There is a sister white vintage, and once again this is a slightly unusual blend, a mix of colombard and chardonnay. This is a jolly combination and it results in a green-gold wine, packed with life and tropical fruit tones. There is not too much sweetness, making it evenly balanced and great for drinking well chilled with a summer salad. It also goes very nicely with steamed prawns and tofu. Once again, this bottle is equipped with the magic plastic Kwik Kork.