How to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew


Isn’t that just typical—you get to your picnic spot/campsite/rented cottage and discover that, while you remembered to pack enough vino for a nice tipple, you forgot to pack a corkscrew. Or your corkscrew broke. Or you thought your bottle had a twist top.

Whatever your reason for not being able to liberate your libations, never fear: your Chardonnay isn’t trapped forever. Here are six ways to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew.

Use a long screw, a screwdriver, and a hammer

This method (obviously) works best if you have a tool kit handy. Use the screwdriver to screw the long screw into the cork, leaving about an inch out. Use the end of the hammer to pull the cork out. If you need it, a towel wrapped around the bottle will give you a better grip.

Pad the bottle well and bang the cork loose

If you’ve got no tools at all, wrap your bottle very well in a towel, hold it horizontally, and bang the bottom of the bottle against something solid, like a wall or a tree. If you don’t have a towel, you can take off your shoe and put the bottle in it to cushion the blows. Hit the bottle on the wall until the cork has eased out enough that you can grab it with your fingers. This is a risky method, but it does work—as long as you don’t smack too hard and end up with a shattered mess.

Smack the cork loose with your shoe

A variation on banging the bottle against the wall is to hold the bottle upside down between your knees and bang on the bottom with a shoe. Obviously, don’t pound until the cork pops all the way out—stop when it’s about halfway, or when you can pull it out.

Push it into the bottle with a wooden spoon, then pull the cork out with a string

Part of the problem with pushing the cork into the bottle is you can end up with cork crumbs in your wine. Using the handle of a wooden spoon avoids that, but if you want to get the cork out once it’s in the bottle, use a piece of string. Tie a figure-eight knot in the bottom, tilt the bottle to one side and lower the string into the bottle and under the cork. Then, pull up hard—the knot will catch the cork and force it up the neck and out the bottle.

Use your car keys

You obviously wouldn’t drink and drive, but if you have your car keys handy, you might be able to MacGyver them to act as a corkscrew. Insert a key at a 45-degree angle into the cork, then slowly pry up the cork while moving the key around in a circle.

Heat it up

If you happen to have a blowtorch handy, you can use it to heat the bottle until the cork creeps out. You can also put the bottle into a pot of boiling water. Of course, this heats your wine up—but mulled wine is kind of yummy, right?

Bonus method: use your trusty sabre, or a spoon

Even if you don’t have an official champagne sabre (yes, that’s a thing), you can use the principle of sabrage—the art of opening a bottle of champagne with a sabre, obviously—to open that bottle of bubbly with a common kitchen spoon. Got a champagne sabre lying around? Alton Brown shows you how to use it.

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