Most wines are sealed with corks that leave one with no choice but to use corkscrews. Unless one has mastered the art of using a corkscrew, the process can be quite messy, and this can deny them a chance to indulge in what could otherwise have been an enjoyable glass of quality wine. Those cork crumbs can be irritating!
A corkscrew is the easiest, cleanest, and safest way of opening a wine bottle. All the other methods have risks of spillage or breakage associated with them and therefore should be used with high precaution.
More often than not, accidents have been reported, and bottles broke in the process of trying to open or serve a wine bottle. The pinch of this could be experienced more if the bottle in the discussion is/was the only one available when out for a picnic or was an expensive one.
12 Ways to Open Wine Bottles Without a Corkscrew
1. Reverse cork
This is probably the most common way to open a wine bottle without necessarily using a corkscrew. Here, instead of getting the cork out, one pushes it in. A blunt object, like the back of a wooden spoon, is placed on top of the cork and safely secured with a palm. Then, the to of the spoon is carefully tapped, exerting pressure to the cork that eventually drops into the bottle. The size of the wooden spoon handle should be smaller in diameter than that of the bottle.
2. Use of tools/ screw and hammer
Placing a screw on the cork, use a screwdriver to fast track the process by pushing it in further carefully. Be sure to leave about an inch of the screw out the cork (just enough for the backside of a hammer to fit). Then, using the end of the harmer, pull the screw out (this should come out with the cork). Alternatively, you can substitute the screw with a couple of nails, and this should give you the same outcome.
The hammer method involves the use of a corncob holder. Insert a small to medium-sized screw into the wine cork and once the screw has been securely screwed into the cork, use a corncob to pull it out. Shape the corncob into a T and horizontally rest it in that the screw is vertically positioned against it. Ensure that the corncob holder prongs are hugging the screw. Your corncob holder should be thinner than the flat end of the screw used. Lastly, using your index and middle fingers, place your index finger on the prongs and your middle finger on the handle, then pull.
3. The string method
Start by tying a figure-eight knot on a strong string then slip it past the side of the cork by wedging it down using a screwdriver or a pair of scissors. When the knot is below the cork, tilt the bottle to ensure the bottom side of the cork has been secured by the knot before you start pulling the string out.
4. Towel and wall method
Grab a towel and tightly secure your wine bottle from all sides. Then, carefully bang the bottle against a sturdy surface, like a wall, while making sure you move it horizontally. You will notice the cork slowly run out. Eventually, it will get to a point where you will easily grab and pull it out. Voila!
5. The scissors method
Fully open your pair of scissors as you lower the sharp/thinner side into the middle of the cork. Once you have securely attached the scissors to the center of the cork, insert some pressure and twist it, but being careful enough not to cut through the cork. Slowly start turning the scissors’ handle as you pull out. The cork will come out attached to the scissors, and after it has come far enough, you can grab it with your hand and pull it out.
6. The shoe method
The technique employed here is just like the towel and wall method except that in this, instead of wrapping a towel around your wine bottle, the base of the bottle is put inside the shoe hole that is then banged against a sturdy surface. The shoe should be flat-heeled with a well-padded inner sole. After a few bangs, you will notice the cork slowly popping out. It can then be grabbed and pulled out with ease using a pair of pliers or fingers.
This shoe method can also be used even without a tough surface. Safely secure your wine bottle between your legs and invert it. Then, smack the base of the bottle with your flat shoe as you keep tabs of the cork’s movement. Once it is inches out, grab it with your fingers and pull it out. Though this method is said to work all the time, it can be energy-zapping and pretty loud depending on what you are banging the shoe against.
7. The pressure/pump method
A bike pump can come in handy when in need to open wine bottles without a corkscrew. It this case, stick your bike pump into the cork and start exerting pressure by pumping. The pressure created against the cork will force it to pop out. If you are not sure of the safety of this method, a little pressure at a time and a pair of pliers will work perfectly.
After a few pumps, the pressure will build up inside the bottle, and the cork will show signs of coming out. For safety purposes, instead of allowing it to pop (as in Champagne), grab it with the pair of pliers and carefully twist it as you simultaneously pull it until it ultimately comes out.
8. Bicycle hook method
Those bicycle hooks used for hanging bikes from rafters are a good substitute for ordinary screws. Carefully, but firmly, attach the hook to the cork by screwing it. Then, get the vinyl-coated hook to serve as a handle. Start pulling the cork out but away from your body to avoid any bodily injuries. The beauty with this hook is that you will not need pliers at the end too since it will be screwed to the cork. All you need to do is to be careful.
9. Coat hanger method
At the very least, you won’t miss a coat hanger if you happen to miss everything else. Straighten the hooked part of hunger and then with the help of a pair of pliers, bend about half an inch (10mm) of the tip of the hanger to form a hook, similar to that of a fishhook. Then, start by pushing the straight part of the wire into the bottle beside the cork to a point where you see the hook below the cork. Note at this point; the hook is facing the other side of the cork (basically facing a bottle wall).
Once the wire is deep enough (the hook is past the cork), rotate the wire to allow the hook to move to the center of the bottle to grab or attach itself to the bottom of the cork. This will then enable you to ease in, pulling the cork out as it moves with the hanger. This approach requires that you have protective wear on hands to avoid bruises resulting from the friction between your bare hands and the wire.
An alternative way of using a hanger is simply straightening its hook and then inserting it at the center of the cork from the top. Gradually twist the hanger, which will consequently be forcing the cork out. At some point, you will need to pull the hanger (which is by now attached to the cork) out with your hand.
10. Paperclip method
Similar to the coat hanger method. Take two paper clips and straighten them, leaving the U-shape side intact. Insert one clip (small U) into the bottle between the glass and the cork until the U is below the cork as the other clip length (the straightened part) remains outside the bottle. With a slight rotation, ensure the hook is directly beneath the cork.
Repeat the process with another clip on the opposite side of the bottle, and once both hooks are fully immersed and beneath the cork, try as much as possible to twist the ends to securely hook them together while they still are in there. With the help of a third object like a spoon handle or pen, your fingers will secure the end of the wires and you can now pull the cork out.
11. The key method
Get a hold of any metallic key and push it into the edges of the cork (at 45 degrees angle) until a more substantial part of the key is inserted, as you push it in circles. The cork will move with the key’s motion, and you will notice it move outwards. Continue until it has moved far enough for you to grab it with your hand and pull. This requires a lot of effort and strength, and the results are not instant. You will need to exercise patience with this method.
12. The knife method
By carefully working a small knife blade in a back and forth motion into the cork while exerting minimal downward pressure, completely bury the blade inside the cork. Then, slightly work it out by twisting and pulling with little pressure. Take care not to break off pieces of the cork into your wine or worse, break the bottle. At this point, insert the knife between the edge of the cork and the bottle, taking precaution not to break the bottle by supporting it with the other hand. Grip the neck of the bottle. Exert low pressure on the cork by pulling the knife towards you. The blade will move inwards like a lever.
Some of these methods to open wine bottles without a corkscrew are labor-intensive, risky, and can compromise the quality of your wine. Bottles can break, and spillages can happen in the processes. Be ready for such accidents. Before trying any of the suggested methods, always remember to remove the foil covering your bottle cork. Always ensure your wine bottle is secure and steady to open smoothly, but most importantly, invest in a quality corkscrew. It will save you time and unnecessary accidents.
Maybe you’ve found simpler ways than the 12 listed above? Comment your experience down below!
Continue enhancing your wine knowledge with these additional Wine on My Time articles: What is Dry Wine?, What is the Best Wine for Weddings?, or Ultimate Guide for Best Red Wine Serving Temperatures!
Thanks for reading with us today, bottoms up! 🍷