It happens to the best of us. You’ve got a nice, unopened bottle of wine you’re all set to enjoy and then… wait, where’s the corkscrew? While this scenario may have ruined the party years ago, now we have the internet, and with it, all the weird and wonderful ways to hack a wine bottle, no corkscrew required. Some are easy, some dangerous, and some have a low chance of success. We’ve compiled a list of seven of our favorite techniques, ranked from easiest to hardest, so you’ll never have to be without wine again. Of course, you could always buy a bottle with a screw-cap, but where’s the fun in that?
This is certainly one of the easiest ways to open a bottle of wine, and chances are you have a hammer lying around. Simply drive a screw into the cork — if you have a screw driver handy, that can help — and then use the back of a hammer to pull the screw (and attached cork) up and out. If you don’t have a hammer, pliers will work, too. Easy peasy; in fact, I’m pretty sure I have actual corkscrews that don’t work as well as this method.
Dig through that junk drawer and try to find one of those wall hook with the screw end. Find one? Hooray! Now, simply screw the hook into the wine cork. Then place a pen through the hook, and grab on to the pen as you would the top of a corkscrew. Simply pull up and, voila!, Wine.
Even though the chances of you having a pair of scissors lying around is extremely high, this one ranks lower than the previous two, due to the slight increase in the probability you’ll lose a finger. Still, as long as it’s your first, and not, say, fourth, bottle of wine for the evening, this technique is easy and probably safe enough. Stick one shear of the scissors as far into the cork as possible. Then, while holding the handle of the scissors, twist and pull down on the wine bottle until the cork comes out.
This one definitely requires a desire for wine stronger than a fear of cutting your hand open. But if you have a steady hand, or are friends with a crazy Russian hacker, I think it’s definitely doable. Push a small knife, like a pairing or steak knife, into the edge of the cork at an angle. Then twist the knife in a circle, while pulling up. The cork should start to slowly come free. Once you get it started, you can remove the knife and stick it in the side of the cork to further shimmy it loose. Once you get enough of the cork out to grab on to, simply pull it out with your hands.
This one is great if you have practically zero tools at your disposal. So like, if you’re locked out of your apartment with your groceries and have nothing to do but wait for your roommate to get home. Well, take your keys and that bottle of wine and have yourself a solo stoop-party. Push the key all the way into the edge of the cork at an angle. Then grab the key and turn it in a circle while also pulling up. Once you get the cork semi-free, you can grab it with your hands and finish the job. Not gonna lie though, this method takes a bit of strength; it really took me a while to get it to work. But hey, you’ve got all the time in the world in this scenario, right?
Aaaaand here we are at everyone’s favorite bizarro opening technique –the shoe. You place the bottle inside a shoe, and bang them both against a wall until the cork pops out. Here’s the thing though, it’s really tricky to do, and seems to work on certain bottles but not others for no reason. And chances are you will break the bottle, maybe cut yourself, and most definitely end up with a shoe full of glass and wine. Full disclosure, I didn’t attempt this method; I don’t have bottles of wine and ruin-able shoes just lying around. What am I, a millionaire? However, if you’re stranded somewhere with nothing but the clothes on your back and at least one shoe on your foot and you really gotta drink some wine, I guess it’s worth a try. There’s a tweak on this method that has you wrapping the bottle in a towel first. Probably a safer bet.
If you have no other recourse, just push the darn cork into the bottle. Yes, you’ll have cork in your wine, and you’ll probably feel lame resorting to this tactic, but hey, do you want that wine or not? We won’t tell, we promise.
There you have it. Whether you’re stuck in the wilderness or just broke your only corkscrew and are too lazy to go to the store, these seven methods should cover you in any wine-opening emergencies. And in conclusion, I present to you –the Anti-Corkscrew King (…don’t try this at home, kids).
Any other fun methods you guys recommend?
Lauren is a New York based actor/singer/writer. She is a graduate of the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater School Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University as well as the College of the Holy Cross. She’s a fan of beer, pasta, and academic establishments with unnecessarily long titles. Find her on stage, or online– she’s there often.