Unless you like boxed wine, your wine bottles are going to either be sealed with a cork or a screw cap, the latter of which should not be frowned upon, especially if it’s white wine. However, most wineries still prefer corks over screw caps, and that means you’ll need a corkscrew.
If your corkscrew is missing, or don’t have it on hand, don’t worry—there are many different ways to open the bottle without getting tiny cork crumbs in the wine.
1. Use Some Tools
As long as you can find a toolbox, you can get a bottle of wine open with a screw, screwdriver, and hammer. Stick the screw into the cork, then use the screwdriver to screw it in further. Leave about one inch of the screw out of the cork. Then, grab your hammer and, using the end (not the head), you can pull both the screw and cork out of the bottle itself. (This works best with bigger screws with large threads.)
Image by Yumi Sakugawa/WonderHowTo
You can also use a bunch of nails if you don’t have screws.
2. Push It with a Wooden Spoon
A wooden spoon with a long, thin handle is the perfect instrument to shove the cork right into the bottle and free your wine, according to Food Mob Bites. Remove any foil covering, and apply pressure to the top of the cork. With some strength, it should pop free and slide into the bottle without creating any cork crumbs.
3. Yank It Out with String
If you don’t like the idea of having a cork inside the bottle, then there’s a way to get it out after you’ve pushed it in. Tie a figure-8 knot into a piece of string and lower it into the neck of the bottle, knot first. Tilt the bottle to create some leeway on one side, to allow your knotted string to slip past the cork and underneath it.
4. Use a Wall to Pop It Loose
If you’re desperate with zero tools to open your wine, just wrap that bottle in a towel, and smack it loose.
Cover the bottle of wine in the towel, making sure both the sides and bottom are wrapped up. Rhythmically bang the bottle’s base against a wall, moving it in a horizontal motion. Repeat until the cork begins to more out of the bottle, then yank it out!
As long as the surface is sturdy, you can use anything from a brick wall to a coffee table. Just make sure the bottle is well-cushioned by the towel, or you could end up with a shattered mess.
If you don’t have a towel handy, you can also take off one of your shoes and use that, too. Be careful to choose a flat shoe with padding inside, though, or one hard smack can bust open the entire bottle.
If you don’t have a wall, a tree works just as well.
5. Slap It Out, No Wall Required
If you’re worried about damaging a wall or door, you don’t need it. With nothing more than your legs and a shoe, you can still slap the cork out of the bottle.
Take a seat and place the bottle upside-down between your thighs. Hold it in place tightly as you evenly hit the bottom of the bottle with the flat sole of your shoe. Keep smacking the wine until the cork eases out a bit. , Yank the cork out with your hand when it’s sticking out of the bottle far enough to grab.
Image by Yumi Sakugawa/WonderHowTo
6. Add Pressure with a Bike Pump
Happen to have a bike pump nearby? Probably not, but it’s still a neat tool to use for a unique wine-opening method, as Kristy Kreme shows on YouTube.
Stick your bike pump into the cork, and get pumping. As you force air into and through the cork, you’ll create enough pressure to make it fly out of the bottle.
7. Unlock the Cork with Your Car Keys
Grab your car keys—with just one metal key, you can wiggle out a wine cork, according to Kent Yammo.
As the video shows, push your key at a 45° angle into the cork until most of the key is in the cork. Then, push the key around in circles while pulling up; the cork will start to screw upward and will eventually twist free of the neck.
8. Just Stab the Cork Out with a Knife
If you’re all out of keys and have tried the slapping methods above, chances are you do have a knife of some kind nearby. Though serrated is best, you can wiggle a wine cork out with any knife, much like with the key method.
As CrazyRussianHacker demonstrates, stick the knife in the cork and carefully move it in a twisting motion. As you twist it, pull up, and the cork will begin to rise. Once it’s out about an inch, stab the cork on its side and turn until it’s completely free of the bottle. Watch your fingers though!
9. Slice It Off
If it’s sparkling wine you’re drinking, or even champagne, you can use the (somewhat dangerous) trick of slicing off the cork, along with a little bit of the glass.
This trick is called sabrage, or sabering, and is done with a saber, sword, or machete. Obviously, this should be a last resort, but Alton Brown shows just how easy it can be if done right. (You can also use a spoon if you’re skilled enough.)
When you become a sabering pro, think about investing in a wine saber Champagne sword to take your class level up a notch.
10. Heat It Up
If you have a cheap bottle of wine and want to get all warmed up for the winter, you can make some makeshift mulled wine using the proper mulling spices. To get the cork out, boil some water, take it off the heat and put the bottle in… the cork will slowly creep out on its own! When the bottle is open, dump that water and pour the wine into the pot. Heat it and add your mulling spices. Simmer a little and serve.
You can also use a blowtorch instead of boiling water if you have one (which you should).
Here’s a Toast to Our Hard Work!
It’s a lot more work than using a trusty corkscrew. Maybe next time invest in a wine travel bag or picnic basket and accessories. Or impress your friends with a fancy Rabbit wine opener or a high tech automatic corkscrew.
Once you’ve finished a few bottles of your uniquely opened wine, you may even have enough corks leftover to get crafty and repurpose them. If the wine isn’t all that great, though, we have tips on how to make it taste better without any special tools. Lastly, check out our helpful hints on how to make opened wine last longer.