How to Open a Bottle of Wine Without a Corkscrew

how to tell if wine has gone bad - opening a bottle of wine

The College Housewife

Perhaps your corkscrew recently met an ignominious fate thanks to the ferocious blades of your garbage disposal. Perhaps you’d purchased a cheap corkscrew of such shoddy construction that it snapped itself in two at the most inconvenient of moments, tragically lodging its broken fragments in the unpopped cork that stands between you and your wine. Or, perhaps, you just flat out lost your corkscrew.

In case you don’t have multiple backup corkscrews at the ready in anticipation of an emergency just like this one, do not fret. Though it may take a bit of creativity, a good amount of finagling, and a whole lot of faith, you absolutely can get the cork out of a wine bottle without a corkscrew.

Here’s some strategies you can try.

Try a Sturdy Wooden Spoon

Instead of trying to pop the cork out of the bottle, consider pushing it in instead.

  1. Put your bottle of wine on a flat surface and firmly hold it in place.
  2. Grab a sturdy wooden spoon with a thin handle and place the tip of the handle onto the center of the cork.
  3. Use your body weight to help you press downwards. It will take a good amount of pressure to do this so odds are you’ll need a few tries before the cork starts moving, but once it does it should begin to smoothly slide down the neck.
  4. Once the cork has dropped down into the bottle, decant your wine into another container.

Break Out Your Toolbox

Closeup on the necks of red wine bottles with the corks partially removed.

stockstudioX / Getty Images

There is a way to use other tools in your home to open a wine bottle, and here's how.

  1. Find the longest screw you have in your toolkit and use a screwdriver to bore it through the dead center of the cork, leaving about ½-inch of the screw sticking out of the top.
  2. Firmly grasp the neck of the bottle, tucking the body tightly under your arm.
  3. Use the claw-end of a hammer to grasp the screw, and slowly pry out the cork with a firm, steady motion.
  4. Before drinking, pour the bottle through a fine-mesh strainer to make sure there are no small pieces of broken cork in your wine. 

Wiggle It Out

If you don’t have any tools on hand, you can try driving the cork out of your bottle of wine by repeatedly applying pressure to the bottom with an ample amount of force, but be warned: you could shatter your bottle of wine into smithereens if you do this with too much enthusiasm, so take a few deep breaths beforehand, and focus on finding that sweet spot between forceful and gentle.

You’ll also need to wrap the bottom of the bottle in some sort of padding to protect the glass. A thick kitchen towel that’s been folded in half is a good option, as is—believe it or not—a sneaker. If you’re going to use your shoe, you may want to slip the bottle into a clean sock, first.

  1. Once your bottle is in its protective gear, hold it against a wall at a 90-degree and begin firmly tapping it against the wall in a steady, rhythmic beat, until you notice the cork starting to wiggle it’s way out of the neck.
  2. Start tapping the bottle against the wall in smaller, faster motions until the cork is about halfway out.
  3. Check to see if you can yank the cork out the rest of the way with your hands, giving it a firm twist as you pull.
  4. If not, another few thwacks against the wall should do it.