There was a time when I relied solely on those fancy electric wine opener’s to open wine…until I got annoyed spending $50+ on a new one each year because they’d break. They would always seem to break right when I needed to open a bottle to share with guests. Leaving me digging through the catch all kitchen drawer for a corkscrew. I’ve since changed my ways and solely rely on opening a bottle of wine WITH a corkscrew, but what happens when you don’t have one on hand? Don’t worry, you’re not screwed. There are a lot of ways to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew.
Five ways to open wine without a corkscrew
1. Screw It (literally)
Simple items such as a long screw, screwdriver and a hammer can easily be used to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew. Just use the screwdriver to screw the screw into the center of the cork. Leave enough room so you can use the hammer to lift the cork out.
2. Heat the Cork Out
This might be my least favorite way to open wine without a corkscrew simply because I don’t like adding HEAT or glass to my wine. But if you have a lighter or kitchen torch you can get your bottle open and do a little science experiment at the same time.
Using a lighter or kitchen torch, heat the neck of the wine bottle turning the bottle as you’re heating so it’s evenly heated on all sides. When the glass neck of the bottle is heated, the glass will expand. Yet, the wine in the bottom is keeping that portion of the glass cool, causing the glass to contract and ultimately push the cork out. (The bottle should NOT BE COLD or it will exploded, ruining the wine and potentially hurting you.) When I say the cork pushes out, it’s more like pop, explode, fly across the room. So, wear glasses and make sure to move your head – and other objects – away from the bottle. Keep in mind this method of opening wine without a corkscrew could cause your bottle to shatter or break.
3. Push It
Using the butt of a knife, spoon, pen, key or any blunt object you can apply pressure in the center of the cork and simply push down so the cork is literally pushed into the bottle allowing you to pour the wine. The downside to using this method is that the cork still in the bottle. If it’s old and crumbly you may find yourself wanting to strain the bottle to remove the pieces. If this does happen, you can use strainer over your decanter and pour the bottle in. Viola, no more cork!
4. Unlock the Bottle
Using a key or serrated knife, press it down into the middle of the cork at an angle. Try to get it about halfway into the cork. Then twist and lift, twist and lift, twist and left. If the cork breaks during your twisting and lifting, you’ll need to plan to go back to the pushing method.
5. Smack, Slap or Hit It Out
You might be mad that you don’t have your corkscrew but you shouldn’t take it out on the bottle, although you totally can. All you need is a towel and a shoe. I’m not a huge fan of this method because I don’t really like my wine shaken or stirred so I would use this as a last resort.
Wrap the bottle in a towel, turn it upside down so the cork is facing the ground. Place the bottle in between your legs, firmly holding it in place. Take a shoe and hit the bottle with the butt of the shoe. The cork will begin moving out of the bottle due to the pressure caused by the hitting. This method may take some time so you’ll definitely be working out your fruition in having lost your corkscrew. To avoid adding more frustration, make sure to stop hitting the bottle before the cork gets all the way out or you’ll be dealing with getting wine stains out of your carpet.
Elaine Schoch (pronounced the German way – Shock) is the editor and founder of Carpe Travel as well as an award-winning travel writer, wine judge, certified by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 and certified American Wine Expert. She is married to The Husband and has two kids, Princess One and Two – who’s interest and knowledge in wine is quite extensive. Not to mention the stamps in their passports.