How to Open a Wine Bottle Without a Corkscrew 

how to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew


Wondering how to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew?

Did you buy your first bottle of wine and realize that you don’t have a corkscrew when you got home? Maybe you were gifted a fancy bottle of wine for the first time and weren’t prepared for how to deal with it.

Or perhaps you’re simply curious about how to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew and want an impressive party trick.

Whether you’re doing it for show or because you don’t have a corkscrew handy, it’s not impossible to open a wine bottle without one. Let’s explore some interesting methods for opening a bottle of wine without a corkscrew. (1)

How to Open a Wine Bottle Without a Corkscrew 

Here’s how to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew. 

champagne bottle and a door knob

Use a Key

Everyone has keys to get into their house, so you should be able to use this method to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew.

First, grab a small towel and a key. Place the bottle on the table, and position the tip of the key into the cork at a 45-degree angle.

Once the key’s tip is mostly inserted into the cork, place the towel over the key head and use your hands to push it into the cork until it’s two-thirds of the way in. The key’s teeth should be almost entirely in the cork, but be careful not to push it all the way through.

After the key is firmly lodged in the cork, start twisting it slowly in an upward circular motion while simultaneously lifting it. Avoid applying too much pressure, as this might cause the key to come out of the cork.

With some patience, the cork should gradually lift up and out of the wine bottle, allowing you to remove it by hand. You can then proceed to pour the wine just as you normally would.

knife and spilled wine bottle

Push The Cork Into the Bottle

This is one of the safer options on the list.

If you don’t have a corkscrew or prefer not to use fire or sharp objects, you can always attempt to push the cork into the bottle itself. Technically, any long and pointy object should work for this method, such as a pen, the back of a pencil, or a suitable stick. It’s recommended to use something long and sturdy, as it allows you to apply more force without the risk of the object breaking under pressure.

You can try using a wooden spoon from your kitchen that has a diameter close to that of the wine bottle’s opening.

Once you’ve found the right tool, remove the foil from the wine bottle, place the wooden spoon in the opening, and push it down. If necessary, you can gently tap the end with your hand or a hammer. However, be cautious not to strike too hard, as releasing the cork suddenly can result in a spray of wine due to the air pressure. Aim to push the cork into the wine slowly but firmly.

If the cork falls into the bottle, you might encounter some difficulty while pouring, but it should be manageable.

In the event that the cork breaks into pieces and falls into the wine bottle, remember to strain the wine before consuming it to avoid ingesting any solid material.

bottle neck and knife

Use a Wire Coat Hanger

Here’s another classic method to open a wine bottle using a wire coat hanger. There are a few ways to go about it when it comes to your bottle of wine.

First, get a thin wire coat hanger. You can either try to flatten the curved part at the top or use one of the sides bunched up together.

Next, remove the wine bottle’s protective cover and grab the wire hanger.

If you opt to straighten out the curved portion of the coat hanger slightly, you can push it down along the edge of the cork until it’s securely lodged underneath, resembling a screw hook. Once in place, wiggle it upward until the cork comes out of the bottle, and then remove it with your hands.

Alternatively, you can use the coat hanger in a similar fashion to the keys. Use the sides of the wire hanger and insert them into the cork at an angle, attempting to wiggle and maneuver the cork out of the bottle. With some persistence, it should eventually loosen, allowing you to pull it out by hand.

wine cork and a lighter

Apply Some Heat

This is one of the more risky methods to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew, but it can be effective. It has been tried and tested by many people, but following the procedure correctly is important.

First, get your wine bottle and a basic lighter. Remove any wax or paper around the neck of the bottle to ensure clear visibility of the cork and to prevent burning any flammable materials.

Next, locate the bottom of the cork within the wine bottle. Tilt the bottle slightly and hold the lighter on its side, with the flame touching the bottle about an inch below the cork.

Carefully rotate the bottle so that the lighter’s flame evenly heats the neck of the bottle. The increased pressure caused by the heat will gradually push the cork upward, allowing you to remove it by hand. This process should only take a few minutes.

Take caution to avoid burning your hands and ensure that the wine bottle is pointed away from anyone, as the cork might shoot out forcefully and cause injury.

Ensure there are no flammable objects nearby, and be mindful not to apply excessive heat, as it can potentially damage the wine. Temperature fluctuations can alter the wine’s structure and affect its flavor and aroma. While using a lighter can assist in opening the bottle, it also carries the risk of negatively impacting the wine.

Using another method from the list or acquiring a traditional corkscrew is still a much safer option. However, if you don’t have any other tools available, you can attempt this method. It is important not to try heating the bottle using alternative methods such as fire or microwave.

wine glasses and a man opening a bottle

Use Some Scissors

We all have a pair of scissors lying around, don’t we? Well, this is where they come in handy. I bet they didn’t teach you this in arts and crafts!

Similar to how you would use a key or a wire coat hanger, you want to insert one scissor blade halfway into the wine cork and gently twist and lift upward to lever it out.

It’s actually easier than it sounds and serves as a reliable method to remove the cork straight from the bottle.

holding a bottle of wine and a waiter's key

Use a Serrated Knife

In order to do this, you will need a serrated knife or a pocket knife. Here’s how to proceed:

Start by grabbing your wine bottle and inserting the knife into the side of the cork. Wedge it back and forth with gentle pressure.

Continue maneuvering the knife until it reaches the bottom of the cork. Once it’s in place, push the knife all the way through the cork. While the knife is inserted into the cork, wiggle and twist it upward, similar to the motion used with scissors or a key, until you can simply pull the cork out by hand.

Be careful not to cut yourself using this method.

measuring tape, screws, and a hammer on a table

Use a Screw and a Hammer

Okay, this method is a bit rough but it can get the job done.

Grab your wine bottle, a screw, and a hammer. Once you have everything ready, proceed as follows: Jam the screw into the cork, leaving about half of it sticking out. Ensure the screw is firmly lodged in place.

Next, use the forked end of the hammer to hook onto the exposed part of the screw and pull out the cork. Hold the bottle tightly with your other hand while doing this.

It’s up to you whether you prefer to fully remove the cork using the hammer or simply loosen it enough to pull it out yourself.

glass of rose wine and beige shoes

Use a Shoe

This one is a bit violent, so if you need a way to take your anger out and don’t mind things potentially exploding, this is the option for you.

Get your bottle of wine, find a small towel, and wrap the lower half of the wine bottle in the towel. Find a sturdy shoe, such as a sneaker, dress shoe, or boot that can withstand some impact. Place the bottle inside the shoe, ensuring it fits snugly in the heel.

Next, while holding on to the wine bottle with your hand, bang the heel of the shoe against the wall until the cork starts to pop out.

Now, you want to be careful with this one if you have sensitive neighbors or a baby sleeping, and you also need to be careful not to bang too hard because you can break the bottle itself. 

Find a balance between gentle and forceful strikes, aiming to achieve the desired outcome without risking damage to the bottle itself.

Once the cork starts rising out of the bottle, take the wine down and handle it yourself, unless you want it to explode like Champagne due to the increase in pressure.

opening wine with a corkscrew

Use a Bike Pump

This is an unconventional yet effective method for opening a wine bottle. It has been tried and tested, so if it has worked for others, it should work for you too if executed correctly.

Here’s what you need to do to open that stubborn bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon:

Start by gathering your bottle of wine and a bike pump. Place the wine bottle on a flat surface and take the needle of the bike pump, inserting it around the edge of the cork as close to the side as possible. Avoid plunging it directly into the center of the cork.

With the needle attached, begin pumping air into the bottle. As you do so, you’ll notice the cork starting to rise. You can pump it to a suitable point and then carefully remove the cork by hand.

This method is quite innovative and generally effective for most people. However, be careful not to over-pump the bottle, as excessive air pressure can cause it to explode.

Remember, the only wine we want to see exploding is Champagne during celebratory moments, and even that can be messy at times!

bottle of wine and string

Use Some String

This is a pretty good method for getting the cork out of that bottle, however, you’re gonna want some pretty strong string.

Get your bottle of wine, and your string ready. First, you want to remove the cork cover. Next, push the cork into the bottle, whether you want to do this with your fingers or with a wooden spoon or pen is entirely up to you. 

Next, tie a knot on a piece of string and lower it into the wine bottle.

Push the string into the bottle until the knot of the string falls right underneath the cork inside. It might help you to tilt the bottle a bit and you might have to use a tool like your fingers or a pen to push the string into the right place. 

Once the string falls behind the cork underneath, you lift the cork out like a mini hook using your strength and the string. It’s kind of difficult, and it’s like reeling in a fish. It might take you a few tries at first. 

You have to make sure the knot you tie is big enough to leverage the cork out of the bottle. Keep trying until you got it, and voila, you can enjoy your bottle of wine. 

wine's protective cover

An Alternative Method Using String

Another alternative method of using string is to get a sturdy piece of string and tie it around the neck of the wine bottle, towards the tip where the protective seal is. Make sure to take the seal off, hold the bottle upside down or sideways, and light the string on fire.

Make sure to rotate the bottle so that the string is evenly lit, and then submerge it in water. The hot parts of the bottle will crack open and you’ll be able to enjoy your wine. 

Be careful with this one so that you don’t touch broken glass and that you don’t get burned either. 

This is one of the more dangerous ways to open that bottle of wine, but it works too.

Final Words of Advice

Here are some tried and tested ways to rescue your wine from any stubbornly sealed wine bottles, even if you don’t have a corkscrew handy. These methods might seem a little unconventional, but they get the job done!

Whether you opt for the screw method or the key method, there’s no shortage of creative ways to crack open a wine bottle without a corkscrew.

But let’s be real, while these methods can save the day, it’s always a good idea to invest in a reliable corkscrew. Not only is it safer, but it’s also a quicker and more dependable way to uncork your favorite bottle of wine.

cork being hit by a hammer

If you’re in a hurry or lacking the necessary tools, some of these methods might not be the most practical options. In those cases, saving up for a good bottle opener is the way to go. Trust me, it’s a worthwhile investment, especially if you find yourself enjoying wine on a regular basis.

That said, don’t hesitate to give one of these methods a whirl the next time you find yourself struggling to free your wine. They’ve been tested and proven to work, so at least one of them is sure to get the job done.

Stan Kushkin

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