At any wine shop, consumers are faced with a choice: Go for the bottle with a cork closure — a more romantic option but one that requires more effort to open — or reach for the screw cap for easy access? For those who decide on the former option, only to find that their corkscrew seems to be missing, there’s no need to fret. There are, as it turns out, more ways to open a bottle of wine than there are to seal them.
Quick disclaimer: Most of these methods aren’t 100 percent foolproof. So tread carefully, as many of these methods run the risks of breaking the cork and having it shed into the wine, chipping the wine bottle, or, in a worst-case scenario, shattering the wine bottle completely. If you have a rare and/or expensive wine that would break your heart if broken in this process, we’d advise you to wait until you have a corkscrew. However, in most other circumstances, these options can help lift you from despair and grant you a pleasant vino-filled night.
Need help opening a beer bottle? See our guide on how to open a bottle without a bottle opener!
1. Use a Screw (the Longer the Better), a Screwdriver, and a Hammer
This is probably one of the safest methods on this list, but it does require some resilience and strength, as it can fatigue you easily. You simply take a screw (preferably a long one) and screw it into the cork with a screwdriver until there is about an inch or so left showing. Then, you take the backside of the hammer, lock it under the screw, and pull the cork out. You may also need a towel to wipe the sweat off your forehead once the mission is complete.
2. Push the Cork in With the Handle of a Wooden Spoon, or Any Blunt Object Similar in Size
This is also a pretty safe method to use in comparison to some of the others on this list, but it does have its downsides. To open the bottle, take the handle of the wooden spoon (or a similar object), and push the cork down into the bottle of wine. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to remove the cork from the bottle once you push it in. On top of that, if the bottle of wine is old, the cork may crumble and shed into the wine once pushed in. While this is not an ideal result, if you are with friends and plan on drinking the whole bottle, there is no need to worry. Just use a strainer and pour the bottle of wine through it into a decanter to remove the cork pieces.
3. Hook It With a Hanger
This method is relatively easy, but it entails saying goodbye to one of your wire hangers — you won’t be using it to hang clothes again. First, bend the tip of the hanger about 30 degrees back; if you do this right, it will look like a fish hook. Next, slide the wire down into the sealed wine bottle, alongside the cork. Rotate the wire 90 degrees so that the hook is underneath the cork. Simply pull the wire up, and the cork should release. Pliers or other household items can be used to tug at the hanger if it seems stuck. Just be sure to use a towel or gloves for protection.
4. Pump It Out
This one is really simple. Take a bike pump that has a needle attached, and plunge it through the cork — penetrating all the way through until the needle reaches the air between the cork and the wine. Then, pump air into the bottle. As you pump, the cork should slowly move out of the bottle due to the air pressure.
5. Wrap the Bottle With a Towel and Use the Wall to Smack It Out
This is the point on the list where things get a bit dangerous, so proceed with caution. The previous two options required at least one tool, but if you find yourself with scarce resources, this option may be your best friend. Simply wrap the bottom of the wine bottle in a thick towel (or two to be safe) and bang it against a wall repeatedly. Obviously, the bottle may break if you do this, so consider it a last resort. You won’t get the cork out of the bottle the first time you smack it against the wall, so we suggest refraining from using your full strength. Instead, lightly hit the bottle against the wall many times, slowly moving the cork out.
6. Slap It Out With a Shoe
This is a similar method to the previous one, but it’s a little less risky. Wrap the bottom of the wine bottle in a towel, but instead of proceeding to slam it against a wall, simply put it upside down in between your legs while sitting and slap it with a shoe. This may take a long time, but it is a safer option than number 6. Remember to stop before the cork comes all the way out, or else you will have yourself a bit of a mess and some permanent stains.
7. Twist It Out With Keys or a Serrated Knife
This method is somewhat similar to the first option, in which a screw and hammer are used to yank out the cork. This time, however, just plunge your keys or a serrated knife into the cork at a 45-degree angle and move the top of the item in a circle, essentially twisting the cork out slowly. After a couple rotations, the cork should come out. Make sure you really get your item into the cork because if you don’t, the cork could crumble.
8. Apply Heat to Move the Cork Out
This option is pretty far out, but it really does work. Using a blowtorch or lighter, apply heat to the neck of the wine bottle right below the cork. The heat should force the cork to move upward and eventually out of the bottle. However, make sure the bottle is not cold, or else it could explode from the rapid change in temperature. If your bottle is already refrigerated, let it rest in a lukewarm environment for a while before applying heat.
9. Twist It Out with Scissors
This method is a super simple way to break into that bottle with only household supplies you’ll likely have on hand. Push one blade of the scissors into the center of the cork. Careful, don’t hurt yourself! Once the blade is pushed all the way in, gently twist the handles of the scissors. As you twist, pull upward until the cork until it’s free from the bottle.
10. Pull the Cork with a String
Calling all crafting enthusiasts: This is your time to shine. If you’re really in a bind but somehow still have access to a toolbox, this method is one to try; it uses string to pull out the cork.
With a screwdriver, carefully create a hole through the cork. This might take a little elbow grease! Once finished, tie a large knot in one end of the string and push the knot through the cork with the screwdriver. After the knot reaches the other end of the cork, it should be able to be pulled out, no problem.
Crumbled pieces of the cork might fall into the wine, which makes for a less-than-desirable glass of wine. Similar to the push method, simply strain the wine and pour into a decanter before enjoying.