11 Ways To Open A Wine Bottle Without A Corkscrew

Picking up a bottle of wine to bring to a friend's house, on a weekend getaway, or for an event is a foolproof move. Whether you're gifting it or adding to the melange of drinks to share, an extra bottle is always welcome. Of course, minor obstacles can get in the way of easy imbibing. If you've found yourself spending the night at a rental cottage or ready to pour a glass of wine at a picnic, there's nothing more frustrating than bringing the perfect bottle only to discover that there is no corkscrew to be found.

Sure, you could eliminate the possibility of the issue occurring by simply buying a screw-top bottle, but we'd rather choose our wine based on other features. Nonetheless, to avoid dejectedly staring at the bottle as you will the cork to pop out, we will let you in on the best ways to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew. Some require power tools, others can be done with very limited items you may very well have on hand. If all else fails, as long as you have a shoe or your house key, then you're set. Not to mention, some of these methods can pave the way for creative experimentation with whatever items you have lying around. In all cases, be sure to start by removing the metal foil from the top of the bottle, or you're guaranteed to find these tips near-impossible.

Push the cork in

It might seem a bit crude, but with the right technique, you can jam the cork straight into a bottle of wine. Simply remove the foil, hold the base steadily, and carefully tap the cork into the bottle with an item that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the opening. The handle of a wooden spoon or the back of a screwdriver are good options — your toothbrush will even work in a pinch. Although you might be tempted to use plenty of force, be forewarned that this approach builds pressure in the bottle and the wine will inevitably splash. A gentler hand will minimize the mess.

Your first thought might be to wonder whether or not this method will ruin your wine. After all, we're quick to remove any tiny pieces of cork that find their way into a glass. Luckily, the cork won't get in the way of your enjoyment of the wine. You'll probably be more irritated about the potential trickiness of maneuvering the bottle to pour a glass without the cork blocking the opening. In this case, you can always shove a chopstick into the bottle to push the cork out of the way. If it's still bothering you, keep reading for our nifty trick using a piece of string that will solve the issue.

Use a screw, screwdriver, and hammer

If you can get your hands on a toolbox, test out this approach. You'll need a long screw, a screwdriver, and a hammer — no further expertise with these tools is required. If you have a screwdriver, then drive the screw into the center of the cork, leaving about half an inch at the top to give you sufficient length to grip. If you only have a hammer and screw, you can still succeed; simply hammer the screw into the cork, leaving some excess at the top.

Once the screw is partway in, you'll need to set yourself up to facilitate the task. Either place the bottle steadily on a table or counter, ideally with an extra set of hands to hold it down. Alternatively, you can grip the bottle between your thighs either seated or standing with a slight bend at the knees (yes, this is a physical process). Using the hook of the hammer, slide the top of the screw through and carefully yank it out. A gentle twist and turning motion is likely to help, and remember, taking it slow and steady is the best approach. Alternatively, use pliers to finish off the job.

Use a clothes hanger

If you're stuck with no corkscrew and a general lack of options to help you open your wine bottle, perhaps you have a clothes hanger in the vicinity. This works best with a wire clothes hanger, ideally the cheapest flimsiest kind. Now, you had better really want to get the cork out because that hanger will have to be tossed upon completion. But hey, that's a problem for later, right?

There are a few methods that work here, dependent on any other equipment you may have. Pliers are a huge bonus here, as they will allow you to reshape the wire for your purpose. First, straighten the loop at the top of the hanger and make a mini hook with pliers. Carefully shimmy the wire hook between the side of the cork and the bottle until it extends beyond the cork. At this point, the hook will be flat along the side of the bottle wall, so turn the hanger in order to center the hook beneath the cork. Once the parts are in place, slowly start to pull the hanger — the mini hook should puncture the cork facilitating the grip as it pops out.

Get out your bike pump

Maybe you're on the road venturing out on an adventure with your bike, a pump, and a bottle of wine. Forgetting a corkscrew while you're in the depths of nature doesn't have to limit your ability to sip on some vino after a long day of pedaling. Grab your trusty bike pump (you wouldn't want to forget that on a long ride!) and slide the needle between the cork and the side of the bottle. Keeping the bottle steady (between your feet is a good option), and pump a few times to initiate the removal of the cork.

Be forewarned that you'll want to be extra cautious since you're unpredictably introducing extra pressure into the bottle. It could very well explode, which will put you right back where you started — unable to drink your wine — with an added mess to clean up. Once the cork has begun to rise, it's probably best to set the pump to the side and proceed with pliers or your hands. In the case of pliers, get a good grip and pull the cork out. If you're going straight for it with your hands, try twisting and turning the cork to gently ease it out.

Try a piece of string

String is incredibly versatile, whether you're stuck on a deserted island or find yourself with a wine bottle and no corkscrew. If you opted for pushing the cork into the bottle, here's a nifty trick to eliminate the struggle of pouring a glass of wine as the cork bobs in the way of the flow. Tie your piece of string into a figure-eight knot, then drop the knot into the bottle, wiggling the string and the bottle until the knot is beneath the cork. Line it up such that the cork is in a vertical position with the loop of the string around it, and yank on your end of the string.

The other option requires the use of a screwdriver or makeshift tool that you can use to poke a hole in the cork. Tie a simple knot at the bottom of the string and jam it through the hole until it comes out on the other end. You'll have an easier time accomplishing this feat if you use a screwdriver, a nail, or another narrow object to push the knotted end in. Once it is snugly on the other end of the cork, carefully pull on the string as you wiggle it side to side until the cork starts to come out. Keep in mind that poking a hole in the cork may cause some bits to fall into your wine; just strain them out as you pour yourself a well-deserved glass.

Smack it out with force

You have zero tools at your disposition yet that bottle of wine is taunting you with its tight seal. If you have a sturdy shoe lying around, then you're ready to conquer and defeat. While this approach can certainly yield positive results, it's a bit risky and prone to disaster. But hey, if that's all you have available it's probably worth a shot ... unless the cork is plastic. In that case, there's no sense in trying.

Place the bottle inside the heel of the shoe, gripping the other end of the shoe and the top of the bottle as you keep the bottle parallel to the floor. Then, firmly smack the heel against a solid wall, until the cork starts to slowly move up the rim. Once it's sufficiently released, pull it out with your hands.

The science of fluid dynamics explains why this method can work. As you exert force on the bottle, it is absorbed by the fluid inside, which has no other option but to transfer it to the cork, effectively pushing it out. For this reason, a shoe with a shock-absorbing sole is a no-go since it will get in the way of this neat trick. On the flip side, while you could do this without a shoe, there's a fine line between the amount of force needed to dislodge the cork without breaking the bottle.

Twist it out with a knife or key

As far as typical household items go, you can probably get your hands on a key or a serrated knife. Both objects can be used in a similar fashion to open a wine bottle.

Starting with a key, wedge it into the cork fairly close to the side of the bottle. To avoid injuring your hand, use a dishcloth or rag for a better grip. Since you don't have a lot of leverage with a key, keep it at a diagonal angle as you twist the cork to facilitate the task. Use the key as a handle to turn the cork until it reaches a point where you can finish it off with your hands.

The same method can be accomplished using a knife, just note that you'll have a longer handle as you twist. In both cases, ensure that the bottle is stabilized, as you'll need to apply a fair bit of pressure. As long as you have an even grip on the key or knife, there shouldn't be a risk of breaking them. All the same, stop if the key starts to bend.

Try some heat

Your first instinct might not be to get fire involved, but in this case, it could improve your chances of accessing the contents of the bottle. Still, considering you are using an open flame, extra caution is advised. Remove the metal foil in its entirety, ensuring that the neck of the wine bottle is completely bare. Look through the glass to find the bottom of the cork — you'll want to direct the heat just beneath this.

Using a lighter or mini blowtorch, start to run the flame around the neck of the bottle below the cork, rotating to heat it evenly from all sides. (Some people have successfully achieved the same result by clamping a hair straightener around a bottle to introduce heat.) Try to avoid heating the wine directly as it could affect its taste. As the air between the wine and the cork slowly heats up, it will expand and cause the cork to rise and come out. The final pop will likely be unpredictable and sudden, so be sure to keep the bottle directed away from anyone or anything the cork could damage when expelled.

Get creative with scissors

Scissors are certainly a multi-purpose tool, whether you're using them in the kitchen, for a craft project, or to snip off excess materials. So, naturally, they come in handy when you're stuck with no corkscrew to be found. Open the scissors and jab one of the blades straight into the cork as far as you can get it. Keep the bottle stable with one hand while you use the other to grip the center of the scissors and rotate them. Alternatively, you can hold the scissors still while you turn the bottle on itself.

You might recognize the motion from the times you actually had a corkscrew on hand. To increase your chance of success, try to hold the bottle down with the stabilizing hand as you twist and lift with the scissors. This will create an opposite exertion that should help shimmy the cork right out of the bottle with a pop. You'll want to avoid using extra sharp scissors for this task if possible and be sure to proceed with caution as you use the scissors as a makeshift handle.

Use a drill

We would only recommend this method if you are already comfortable operating a drill. It's best not to wing it with a power tool you've never used before. We advise using a 2½ inch screw for the task, as it will give you enough length to fit it partway through the cork while leaving some space to pull it out.

Drill the screw straight down — this is by far the biggest determinant of your success. If you drill in the screw at an angle, you'll have a much harder time pulling it out. Not to mention, the chance of the cork crumbling will significantly increase.

Once the screw is visible at the other extremity of the cork, stop drilling. Then, with pliers or the hook of a hammer, yank at the screw to pull the cork out. If you have rough gloves or sturdy hands, you might get away with your own strength, but you'll have a simpler time with the tools if they are available.

Saber Champagne bottles with a sword

A lot of these tricks for opening wine bottles are about making do with what little you have on hand when there's no corkscrew to be found. This tip is more akin to a showy party trick. If you have yet to see someone saber a Champagne bottle, prepare to be wowed.

Sabrage is named after the tool typically used to perform the dazzling execution, a saber. The sword in question was the type of blade used by Napoleon's army, and the emperor himself was fond of popping open bottles of bubbly with this dramatic method.

That being said, this is possibly one of the more dangerous techniques described, given that you are slicing off the top of a Champagne bottle with a knife (preferably a sword). The process is straightforward if you keep a few elements in mind. Since you'll be cutting off the top of the bottle, keep your hands off the neck and grip it at the base instead. Aim the bottle away from you at a 30 to a 45-degree angle, and run the dull edge of the knife along the seam of the bottle (the line where the glass meets). The goal is to slide the blade in one quick move up the length of the bottle. For optimal results, ensure the bottle of Champagne is kept at a very cold temperature before attempting.