When I studied abroad in France, I brought a bottle of wine to the movie theater underneath my Giant hoodie (as was the style back then, in that region). But much to mon horreur, I had forgot to smuggle a corkscrew to accompany my $3 pinot.
The only pseudo-tool I could find was a rock-hard breadstick I found on the floor (this being France), and I pushed it on top of the bottle to no avail. The mini-baguette broke, and I sat through Shutter Island as sober as DiCaprio during a Greenpeace convention in Salt Lake City.
Don't let this happen to you, internet friends. Here are six (mostly effective) methods of opening stubborn wine bottles -- sans corkscrew -- that are much better than French movie theater breadsticks.
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Pros: You can use a multitude of different items -- almost anything hard, skinny, and long (hehe) Cons: You need to be kind of strong, and maybe not mind a cork floating in your wine
This is simple enough -- it's what I tried to do with the breadstick. Just stick a very solid (again, more solid than a breadstick) item on top of the cork in question and just push, baby. Push like you're delivering triplets in a Hollywood rom-com!
A screwdriver, or a pen/pencil works very well. But the handle of a wooden spoon is ideal, as to not tear the cork up in the process. This torn-up cork will make drinking the wine… problematic.
The Knife Thing
Pros: Knives are fun! Con: Knives are dangerous!
Grab your trusty serrated knife out of its collector case, then stab the top of the cork near the edge, at a diagonal angle. Spin your knife around (while keeping the angle) and get the cork to pop out slightly. At this point, you can jam the knife directly into the side of the cork, where you can spin 'til release. Fun fact: Spin 'til Release is the name of my unrecorded slow-jamz album.
The String Pull
Pros: No cork in the bottle, makes you seem like goddamn MacGyver Cons: It's kind of hard to do, you need string AND a screwdriver
If you aren't into swallowing chunks of cork (first of all, grow up) you can puncture a hole in the cork -- all the way through -- then tie a knot at the end of a string. If you are precise enough, only one little spittle of cork should land in your wino, which can be easily removed. Use the screwdriver to force the knotted end through the cork. If your knot is big enough, you should be able to pull up on the string and pop that sucker like a grown-up Push Pop… that you eventually discard. Or at least save as a keepsake, reminding you of that time you didn't have a corkscrew.
The Towel Slap
Pros: Looks amazing and macho Cons: You can mess up pretty easily and shatter the bottle
So get your favorite towel and find a flat, sturdy surface -- walls work, sure. Wrap the bottle with the towel, and smack it against the surface of your choice, while holding the bottle horizontally. The momentum or inertia or mass divided by force (I skipped a lot of physics classes, OK?!) will make the cork jut out. Keep doing it, till it's far enough out to pull. You might fuck up your wall, but you won't care when you finish that bottle.
Pros: Almost everyone has shoes Cons: Sometimes shoes smell
Get your favorite hard-soled shoe (sorry Croc fans!) and hold your wine bottle upside down. Beat the bottom of the bottle… hard. Against a wall, a chair, or even your hardest bone -- which is the femur, medically speaking. The same science-things at work in the Towel Slap are at play here: Eventually the cork will jut out and you can snag it. If you want, you can combine the two aforementioned methods and put the bottle INSIDE your shoe, and smack it against the wall in lieu of the towel. Hey, maybe you don't own a towel. Maybe you like to air dry?
The umm… Cork Screw?
Pros: Even more MacGyver-esque than the string pull, effectively a homemade cork screw Cons: You need a bunch of stuff
So, you screw a screw into the top of your cork. Then, you take the nail-snaggin' end (the claw side) of a hammer, and pull up on that screw. Your cork will pop off. When you are done with the bottle, take the hammer and smash the bottle on your neighbor's driveway. That really doesn't help anything, but it feels super cathartic. Or so I've heard.
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Wil Fulton is a staff writer for Thrillist. He actually blames Gwyneth Paltrow for most of the world's problems. Follow him @wilfulton.