How To Open A Wine Bottle Without A Corkscrew

Anish Patel @ 2021-12-17 12:19:06 -0800

How To Open A Wine Bottle Without A Corkscrew

Don’t have a corkscrew? We’ve got you covered. There are tons of ways to open a bottle of wine without one. Some methods take a little finesse, some take patience, and some need a hefty dose of caution, but all of them are sure to impress.

Just in case you do have a corkscrew but don’t quite know what to do with it, scroll down to the bottom of this article, and we’ll walk you through it step-by-step.

What Should I Consider Before I Get Started?

There are a few things to think about before looking around the house for hangers and toothbrushes. First, these bottle opening methods aren’t foolproof. In fact, it’s easy to break the cork or even the bottle itself.

Here’s our go-to rule of thumb: if this is your first time attempting these DIY methods, take your time.

If the bottle of wine you’re trying to open is particularly special, you may want to wait until you have the proper tools to open it. Plus, if the bottle hasn’t been stored on its side, the cork may have dried out and is likely to crumble, making your job a lot more difficult.

For bottles over twenty years old, the cork is almost guaranteed to crumble—even with a proper wine key—so leave these alternative methods to wines that you wouldn’t cry over if you got cork in them.

To open those less valuable—but just as necessary—bottles, try these six methods and earn yourself the reputation as the most resourceful person in a corkscrew-less room.

How Do I Open a Wine Bottle Without a Corkscrew?

Use an actual screw.

You’ll need a screw, a screwdriver, and a hammer for this method.

1. First, pull the foil off by gripping and twisting as you pull. Some foils will come off easier than others, and a few just won’t budge. For these stubborn bottles, use a serrated knife to cut the foil off carefully.
2. Next, place a screw in the center of the cork.
3. Use your screwdriver to drive the screw into the cork, stopping about halfway.
4. Now, hook the screw with the claw of your hammer and gently begin to pull and wiggle the cork out.
5. Be patient. This method can take a little time, and you don’t want to rip the screw out and leave the cork in the bottle. 
6. Once the cork is halfway out, you can grip it with your hand or a pair of pliers to pull it out.

    Don’t have a hammer? You can pull the screw out with pliers, but you might wear yourself out. 

    Use a knife. 

    This method is dangerous, so proceed with caution and move slowly. 

    1. Pull the foil off with your hand and place the bottle on a flat surface.
    2. Beginning just off-center of the cork, insert a small knife into the cork at an angle.
    3. Simultaneously turn the knife and pull it upwards.
    4. Once the cork is about halfway free, pull the knife out and stick it horizontally into the side of the cork.
    5. Carefully pull the cork up with the knife. 

    Don’t try this with bottles over ten years old, as the cork may be too dry for the knife to grip.

    Push in the cork.

    This method is easy, but you have to be okay with a little cork in your wine—and perhaps a little wine on yourself. 

    1. Pull the foil off and place the wine on a flat surface.
    2. Find a blunt object like a wooden spoon, a thick marker, a toothbrush, a dowel, or a butter knife. The object should be long enough to reach the bottle's neck and no wider than the corkscrew itself. 
    3. Grab the bottle firmly, using a napkin or a cloth to keep your hand in place.
    4. Push the cork all the way into your bottle of wine.

      This method has a couple of drawbacks. First, the cork will become forever submerged in your wine. Second, the cork could shred in the process, and you may need to strain the wine.

      The biggest risk is that a little wine will likely come shooting out of the bottle when you finally push in the cork. Don’t try this with a bottle of Cab on your wedding night.

      Use a wire hanger. 

      This approach is a little tricky, but all you need is a hanger and some patience. 

      1. Remove the foil.
      2. Using your hands or pliers, bend the hanger's hook backward until it makes a small fish hook.
      3. Slide the fish hook down the side of the cork so that it becomes wedged between the cork and bottle. This move may take a few tries to get right.
      4. When the hanger hits the bottom of the cork, rotate the wire to hook the bottom of the cork.
      5. Pull upwards until the cork is freed.

        Use a spare key.

        Unlock your bottle with a spare key—just make sure you won’t need it later.

        1. Remove the foil.
        2. Insert a key into the side of the cork at an angle. 
        3. Wrap a cloth around the key so that it doesn’t hurt your hand, and push the key in as far as it will go.
        4. Now twist the key and pull up carefully to shimmy out the cork. 

          This method requires a little more elbow grease because a small key doesn’t provide great leverage, Remember, weak keys can break, so don’t use the only key to your house. 

          Bang it against a wall. 

          This is the most dangerous method, as the bottle can break in your hand. Be careful (and don’t say we didn’t warn you)!

          1. Pull the foil off.
          2. Find a large shoe and place the wine bottle into the shoe's heel.
          3. Lightly begin to hit the bottom of the shoe against a wall while you firmly grip the bottle. Don’t slam the bottle against the wall too hard because you don’t want to end up with a handful of glass. 
          4. As you hit the bottle against the wall, the cork will start to work its way out. 
          5. Once the cork is halfway out, you can wiggle it out the rest of the way with your hand or pliers. 

            For this method, a stone or brick wall is best. Try it on the outside of your house. 

            Use your lighter. 

            You can open your bottle of wine with a lighter, but only try this on room-temperature bottles. Cold bottles might explode from the sudden temperature change. 

            1. Remove the foil and place the bottle on a flat surface. 
            2. Use your lighter to heat the bottle's neck just below the cork so that it starts to move upwards.
            3. Rotate the bottle so that all sides are evenly heated, taking care not to burn yourself.
            4. Use caution as the cork could suddenly fly off. 

              What Should I Do If the Cork Crumbles in My Wine?

              Did the cork crumble in your wine? That’s okay; it happens. Older corks can dry and crumble even with a proper corkscrew. All you have to do is strain the wine through a cheesecloth into a decanter, and voila! You have clean wine again.

              If you don’t have these tools, you can use a coffee filter and any bowl instead.

              How Do I Use a Corkscrew?

              Do you have a corkscrew on-hand, but you don’t know how to use it?

              Wine openers can be intimidating, and even trained professionals break the cork from time to time. Once you get the hang of it, corkscrews are the best way to open a bottle of wine. Follow these steps to start practicing.

              1. Peel the foil. Using the knife on the end of your wine key, place the blade above or below the ridge at the neck of the bottle and press down, moving the blade all the way around the neck. 
              2. Once you’ve created a circular cut around the bottle's neck, remove the foil by peeling upwards with your blade. 
              3. Insert the corkscrew. Place the tip of the corkscrew in the center of the cork and turn clockwise while you gently push down.
              4. Pull the cork out. Push the metal lever towards the bottle so that the highest notch rests on the mouth of the bottle. Now, pull the corkscrew's handle so that the cork pulls out about halfway.
              5. If your cork is halfway out, rest the lower notch of the corkscrew on the mouth of the bottle and pull the cork out.
              6. If you’re feeling fancy, wipe the bottle with a cloth napkin. 

                Still stumped by your bottle?

                These methods take time to perfect, whether they be with a wine key or a hanger. Practice on bottles that you care less about, and you’ll be a pro in no time.

                And if none of these suit your fancy, there’s always canned wine. Try our lightly sparkling red wine cocktail, Tinto de Verano. All you have to do is pop the tab, and you’re good to go.

                Shop Tinto