How to Open a Bottle of Wine Without a Corkscrew
Wondering how to get a cork out without a corkscrew? (Assuming you don't have an extra saber lying around.) Here are the six safest ways:
Discovering you don't have a corkscrew right when you're ready to relax into jammy Zinfandel or crisp Riesling is right up there among the things that are definitively the worst. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can still get that wine bottle open in a pinch. (And while they don't include the precognitive tip of buying several of our favorite Maco wine keys—which you can find on our 2017 gift guide—and subsequently stashing them in all your drawers, glove compartments, and duffle bags so that you always have one at the ready, that's not a terrible idea.)
Oh, and one other thing: before trying any of these methods, make sure to remove the foil from the bottle first. Watch as Epi editor David Tamarkin explains the importance of this step and the swiftest way to do it, here.
1. JUST UNSCREW IT
This may seem obvious, but before you start tearing apart your kitchen in search of wine-opening solutions, make sure your bottle isn't a screw top. A lot of great vintners are opting for this easy-to-open alternative instead of the traditional cork. Even if you bought a nice bottle, double check that you even need an unorthodox solution for how to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew.
2. THE POWER-TOOL METHOD
Use a screwdriver or electric drill (slowly) to screw a nail or drill bit into the cork until about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch remains sticking out. Fitting the screw in at an angle will provide better leverage. If you're using a drill, go slowly to ensure you don't hit the bottle itself. Once it's in, just pull back on the drill. To continue with the manual method, use the back of a hammer to pry the screw out, just as if you were removing a nail from a wall. See YouTube Video - Hack: How To Open A Wine Bottle With A Hammer | Basics
3. THE JUNK-DRAWER METHOD
Use a screw with a hook on one side—you know you have one leftover from mounting those window blinds 10 years ago—and screw it all the way into the cork. Place the handle of a wooden spoon in the hook (so that the handle and wine bottle form a T shape—you know, kind of like an old-style corkscrew). Twist the bottle and spoon handle in opposite directions, pulling up on the handle with steady pressure. You may need to employ your knees as a bottle grip depending on how tightly the cork is wedged in.
4. THE ONE-SHOE-OFF METHOD-See YouTube here
Remove one shoe, place the base of the bottle in the foot hole, then pound the shoe against a stone wall or tree. It may take up to 20 taps, but eventually, you'll see the cork start to pop out inch-by-inch. Once it's popped out enough for you to grab, finish pulling out the cork by hand. Stuck at the beach with no shoe? The trick works with flip-flops too.
5. THE CHECK-YOUR-PRESSURE METHOD-See YouTube Here
Insert a bike pump down the side of a cork and slowly pump until the cork starts to emerge. If you're a risk-taker, keep pumping until the cork pops off like a shaken bottle of warm Champagne. For a safer method, grab a pair of pliers and twist the cork while pulling up until it pops out.
6. THE REVERSE CORK METHOD
Instead of trying to get the cork out of the wine bottle without a corkscrew, try to get it in. Place the end of a wooden spoon's handle (the handle must be cylindrical with a diameter smaller than the neck of the wine bottle) on top of the cork. Using a rubber mallet, the back of a cleaver, or a rolling pin, tap on the top of the spoon so that the handle pushes the cork further into the bottle until the neck is clear and the cork is floating, fully intact, in the wine.
TWO WAYS TO NOT REMOVE A CORK
Many videos will instruct you to use a lighter to flame the neck of a wine bottle until the cork pops off. This method is inadvisable since it essentially steams the wine to create pressure, altering the wine's flavor and aromas in the process. There are also several videos about using a small serrated knife to remove a cork. This method is really, really unsafe and could easily lead to stabbed hands and broken bottles.
*Now that you're ready to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew in any situation, watch this video to find out how wine is made: