We’ve all been there before: it’s time to open wine, but you can’t find a corkscrew. Or maybe the corkscrew you can find snaps off while you’re trying to get it into the cork. Either way, you’re not lost and lacking in wine for the night just because of the lack of a corkscrew. Many tricks and gimmicks can open up a bottle of wine, although only some of them conventionally remove the cork. Choose one of the unique methods below based on what you have available and the general quality of the wine.
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Before You Open Wine “No Corkscrew” Style
Wear gloves if you have them for most of these methods. Eye protection isn’t a bad idea either. If the wine is particularly rare or special, you may want to avoid any methods that push the cork into the wine or break it up since this can affect the flavor. Champagne and other sparkling wine can be particularly tricky to open in improvised ways, so you may want to wait for a corkscrew or screw-top bottle.
1. Bang the Bottle
This trick with leave you with open wine, no corkscrew, no problem. It also requires the fewest tools, although you will need at least a towel and also preferably a shoe to cushion the blows. Wrap the bottom of the wine bottle in the towel, then settle it into the shoe if you have one. Hold the bottle at the neck and base and slam the padded base against a wall. Watch out for marking up or damaging drywall or banging the bottle too hard against cement or brick. The cork will eventually rise up from the neck, allowing you to grab it with your fingers or a vise grip.
2. Try Other Tools from Around the House
Got a screw and a claw-backed hammer? Then you’ll soon have open wine — no corkscrew needed. Twist the screw into the cork like you would a corkscrew, using a screwdriver for a little extra pressure if needed. Make sure to leave at least half an inch of the screw protruding from the cork. Then either grab the screw by hand (not recommended) or use the back of a claw-backed hammer to leverage the cork up and out. If you don’t have a screw, try pushing an old key you don’t mind risking into the cork and trying to twist it up and out.
3. Push It In
This method to open wine, no corkscrew needed, is less than ideal, but it will work in a pinch. Pushing the cork in is far easier than trying to pull it out, and any long wooden tool like a spoon handle or chopstick will work. However, the cork could crumble a bit and leave debris you get in your mouth. It won’t cause any quality or flavor issues with the wine. It’s also definitely not an issue with most inexpensive wines that use artificial corks, which tend to resist crumbling anyway. Of course, you’ll have to finish the bottle or find a different way to stopper it after opening it this way.
4. Do It All With a Knife
It’s not the safest method, especially if you’ve already been drinking. But a long pointed knife can remove a stubborn cork that won’t rise when you smack the bottle against a wall. As with the screw or key method, insert the tip of the knife deeply into the center before twisting and lifting. If you manage to get the cork to rise a bit, so it’s above the lip of the bottle, you can insert the knife from the side and leverage it that way. A screwdriver works almost as well and is less likely to risk a cut to the fingers, but it may end up pushing the cork in instead.
5. Heat It Out (with Care)
The inside of the wine bottle is sealed, so it will increase in pressure if you heat the whole bottle. The safe way to use this trick to remove the cork without shattering the glass is to use a pot of water that was brought to a boil and then removed from the stove. Ensuring that the bottle is at room temperature and not chilled it’s as easy as placing the wine in the pot and waiting. The heat will cause the cork to rise slowly, at which point you can use something to pull it the rest of the way out. Of course, you may have to chill the wine again before drinking.
All of these tricks work well to keep you drinking when the corkscrew disappears or gives up the ghost. Of course, don’t discount the ease of screw-top bottles or boxed wine when your main goal is to have a good time rather than tasting specific vintages.