Don’t let the lack of a corkscrew stop you from enjoying your favorite bottle of wine. Ingenious drinkers before you have devised several ways to pop out a cork with other tools, using everything from a shoe to a blowtorch. Get creative with one of these hacks.
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Use a Makeshift Corkscrew
A corkscrew isn’t a complicated tool. It’s just a screw with a grip, essentially. In fact, the tool wasn’t even designed for wine bottles—it’s derived from the gun worm, which musket men used to clean their guns. If 17th century drinkers could repurpose a military tool to pop their bottles, 21st century you can certainly work up an improvised corkscrew.
What you need: Screw, screwdriver, hammer.
How to do it: Screw a standard screw into the cork using a screwdriver. Then lock the backside of a hammer around the screw and yank.
Pound the Cork Out Using a Shoe
Instead of pulling the cork out, you can smack the back of the bottle until the cork jolts loose, like burping a wine baby. Since you’ll probably shatter the bottle if you just smack it against a wall, pop the bottom of the bottle into a shoe to get all the force with none of the shatter.
What you need: Shoe, sturdy surface.
How to do it: Place the bottom end of the bottle into a shoe. Then, with one hand on the neck of the bottle and the other on the shoe, whack the heel against a wall or other sturdy surface and watch as the cork inches out with each hit. Repeat until there’s enough cork to grab and pull out. Alternatively, If you fear for your sole, wrap the bottle in a towel and use the same method, though the shoe’s built-in support acts to cushion the glass better than your standard kitchen rag.
Pump It Out With a Bike Pump
Think of the air inside the bottle like the air in a balloon, or better yet, a tire, and pump enough additional air in there to make it pop. The needle on a bike pump almost seems like it was meant to pierce a cork.
What you need: Bike pump.
How to do it: Insert the needle of a bike pump into the cork until it comes out the other side (inside the bottle). Then, pump like there’s no tomorrow (or at least no time to drink wine tomorrow). The air pressure will push the cork out.
Cut It Out
Make like Full House’s Uncle Joey and cut it out—the cork, that is. Skip the massive kitchen knife and arm yourself with a small knife or a key; this trick is all about finesse.
What you need: Knife.
How to do it: Stick a knife (or long key) into the cork at an angle. Twirl the knife as if unscrewing the cork, being sure to keep the knife at the exact same angle as you turn it. You don’t want to cut away the cork but rather use the knife to twist it out.
Yank It Out With a String
Go fishing for wine with just a string and a screwdriver. Burrowing a hole in the cork creates just enough space for a knot to slide through and secure the far side of the cork, so you can simply yank it out. Hook, line and Sauvignon.
What you need: Screwdriver, string.
How to do it: Burrow a hole through the cork using a screwdriver (this will leave some sediment in the bottle, so be sure to strain your wine or pour carefully after opening). Tie a knot at the end of a piece of string and use the screwdriver to push the knot through the cork into the bottle. Once the knot gets through the cork, it should catch on the far side. Pull the cork out by the string.
Heat It Up
Heat causes things to expand—like the air inside a bottle, for example. Plopping your bottle into a heat bath may not sound appealing if you plan to drink a glassful straight, but it’s a good option for removing a stubborn cork if you plan to make mulled wine. Plus, watching the cork work its way out of the bottle all on its own is a neat party trick.
What you need: Pot, water, stove.
How to do it: Place a room temperature bottle in a pot filled with a few inches of water. Bring the water to a boil, then simply wait until the heat naturally grants you access to your wine. After the cork pops, dump the water, return the wine to the pot over medium heat, and make yourself some old-fashioned mulled wine.
Heat It Up (With Precision)
Setting aside the fact that you have a blowtorch on hand but not a corkscrew, you can execute the same heat technique above but with more precision, allowing you to heat the cork out of the bottle without affecting the wine too much. Just be sure the bottle starts at room temp and that you heat it slowly. Bringing the temperature of the glass up too quickly will cause it to shatter.
What you need: Blowtorch.
How to do it: Grab your blowtorch and heat the neck of the bottle, rotating the bottle to evenly distribute heat around the neck. Continue until the cork pops out.
Just Push the Cork in
This was probably your first instinct, anyway—and your instincts were right on. It may not be elegant, and it may leave you with a bit of cork to strain out, but wine with a bit of grit is better than no wine at all. You can use pretty much anything thin and sturdy enough to push the cork in. Just be sure to aim the bottle at a sink or the ground outside, in case the force of the cork sends the wine bursting out of the bottle.
What you need: Screwdriver, spoon, pen or anything else thin and sturdy enough to push that cork in.
How to do it: Select your instrument. Point the bottle away from stainable material. Get a good grip on the bottle by placing the bottom against your leg or abs, and push the cork in.