Caught without a Wine Opener?5 ways to open wine

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The night has arrived that you have been building up to all of your friends: your dinner party. You have nailed the food, the entertainment and made sure that everyone has a place at the table. Everything is prepared from aperitifs to post-dinner snacks and as everyone arrives, you realize that you don’t have a wine opener. Or that you meant to buy a new one as you broke the last one.

This isn’t the end of the world. There have been several ways to save you from this predicament and this article will reveal some of the better ones. A more extensive list can be found elsewhere on how to open wine bottles without an opener but this article has highlighted some of the best. 

Though it should be noted that opening wine without an opener is never recommended but it definitely shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying your evening. As with all experimental methods, they come with risks so be careful and make sure that, at least for your first attempt, you don’t have a room full of people staring at you!

1. Screw, Screwdriver, and Hammer method: This may sound like you are preparing for a big day of DIY but in fact, this is one of the best and safest methods to open a bottle of wine. It uses the same method effectively as a corkscrew. Penetrate the cork using the screw and the screwdriver leaving approximately an inch or so between the cork and the screw. Longer screws are obviously much more effective than smaller ones here.

Then use the hammer to hook onto the screw and pull, carefully. This should leave you with a resounding pop and access to your delicious wine.

2. Applying heat to the bottle: Again, this sounds like you have something else more active planned than a relaxing and delicious glass of wine, but this does work. Whilst some experienced users recommend using a blow torch, it seems unlikely that you would have that if you don’t have a wine opener. However, anything that can generate heat e.g. a lighter will work here but it will take a little time

Take your heat source and heat around the bottle of wine just below where the bottom of the cork sits in the bottle. This heat will generate pressure and begin to move the work upwards up to the point where you should be able to grab it and pull it. This method does come with a warning that the bottle cannot be cold. The temperature change will cause the glass to crack and break so make sure the bottle is at least lukewarm or room temperature.

3. Using a Bike pump: This is a slightly riskier method and requires a bike pump with a needle. This will be the bit that enters the cork and allows for the pressure to build upon the inside of the bottle. The method itself is fairly easy to do. Place the needle of the pump into the cork and begin pumping away. It should be stressed that you should pump carefully and deliberately. Do not pump as hard and as fast as you can as it may cause the bottle to break.

Slower more deliberate pumps should begin to create a pressure underneath the cork that will slowly ease it up the bottleneck until you can pull it out. This may affect the taste of a more premium wine as more and more air will be forced into the bottle before you can even taste it, so it may be worth only using this method in the direst of circumstances.

4. The Wire Hanger: Famously one of the most versatile households objects out there. Whether it is hanging clothes up to prevent creases or unclogging your drain, this reliable tool seems to know no bounds. It can also be turned into a savior for your wine embarrassment should you be able to mold it into the shape that you need. You can twist the hanger part of it into a makeshift corkscrew that will slide straight into the cork of your wine. This will allow you to gain some purchase and slide the cork out with a fair bit of wiggling.

This technique again is useful as most people tend to have a wire hanger in their home and to hand. However, as it enters the cork, it may begin to split it or damage it, ruining the wine below. So, this is a calculated risk you need to make. How much do you want that wine?

5. The Shoe or countertop banging method: Many videos have flown around the internet showing people stuck in the same predicament that you are. However, they don’t hesitate as they take off their shoe, pop their wine bottle in and proceed to whack it against the wall until the cork is free. This method does work but comes with its risks.

This method is best attempted with a shoe that has a raised sole and plenty of profile that will encase the bottle of wine. The sole itself will cushion the bottle to prevent you from breaking the bottle, (hopefully). Gripping the bottle by the base using your shoe, bang the heel of the shoe squarely against the wall and the cork will begin to move out. It works similarly on a countertop covered by a towel or something similar.

This method, however, can cause the cork to explode off, perhaps sacrificing your delicious wine or disrupt the wine inside so much that it foams and ruins the flavor. It can be effective in a pickle but is one to be used as a last resort.

Opening wine without an opener

It is never recommended but sometimes, it is required and when it comes down to it, everyone will always choose to have wine over not having wine. There are certainly other methods, but it is worth finding ones that you feel confident in and sticking to them. Or buy a wine opener…