It’s the end of a busy week. You’ve been working hard and the weekend is ahead of you. Time to settle down on the sofa with your favorite movie and a glass (or two) of wine. But where’s the corkscrew? You search every drawer and cupboard, but it’s nowhere to be found. It’s a disaster! You’ll never get into the bottle without the corkscrew. Don’t panic — help is at hand. Whether you’re at home, at a party, or having a picnic, there are ways to get that cork out so you can still enjoy your favorite tipple.
This is probably the safest method for uncorking your wine. A wooden spoon with a long, thin handle is the ideal implement to push the cork right into the bottle. Not everyone likes this method, as the cork remains inside the bottle. But if you do it right, the cork will stay whole, and there shouldn’t be any crumbs floating about and spoiling your wine.
If you’re at home or a friend’s house and happen to have a bicycle pump handy, then your night is saved! Insert the pump’s needle deep into the cork until it reaches the air pocket between cork and wine. Start pumping air gently and consistently and you’ll see cork begin to lift out of the bottle. Word of caution though. Pumping too vigorously will quickly increase the air pressure causing the cork to fly out of the bottle like a dart.
If you have a tool kit, grab a screw (the longer, the better), screwdriver, and a claw hammer. Using the screwdriver, insert your long screw into the center of the cork, leaving an inch sticking out of the top. Use the back end of the hammer to pull the screw until the cork pops out. If you don't have a claw hammer, pliers may also work. It takes some muscle and resilience, but this is probably one of the safest and cleanest methods for getting that bottle open, since it works very much like a regular corkscrew.
This is where things get a little more dangerous. If you don’t have any other tools available, all you need is a wall and a sneaker to open your bottle of wine. Place your sneaker perpendicular to the wall and insert the bottle. Gently and rhythmically bang the bottle and sneaker against the wall. Eventually, the cork will move enough for you to get hold of it and yank it out. If your shoe is the wrong style for this method (such as stilettos), you could wrap the base of your wine bottle in a towel instead. The idea is to protect the bottle from shattering when it hits the wall. If you’re going to try this method, remember to be very gentle.
If you’re not feeling brave enough to try the wall-banging method, try hitting your bottle of wine with a shoe instead. Sit down and place the bottle upside-down between your legs. Gently slap the base of the bottle with a soft-soled shoe. This is safer than using the wall but not as efficient, and it will take a while for the cork to start moving. Remember to stop before the cork is fully out or you and your carpet will be covered in wine!
Any sharp knife will do, but serrated steak knives are best. Stab the cork at a 45-degree angle and move the knife in a circular motion whilst pulling up. It should only take a couple of rotations to twist the cork out of the bottle. Make sure the knife is in deep, or you'll just be shaving the top off the cork.
Most people have their car keys with them at all times. Use your key instead of a steak knife to twist and wiggle the cork out of a wine bottle. It may require some effort to get the key deep enough into the cork, but once it’s in, you should have that bottle open in no time!
As long as your wine is not chilled, you can try the heating method. Take a blowtorch and gently apply heat to the neck of the bottle, just below the cork. The heat should force the cork up and out of the bottle. Placing the wine bottle in a bowl of boiled water may also have the same result.
Seriously, don't try this with a cold bottle of wine, though. The rapid change in temperature could cause the bottle to explode.
If it’s champagne or sparkling wine, you could use the dangerous trick of sabrage. The idea is to slice off the top of the bottle with a saber, sword, or machete. Take your chilled bottle, locate the seam (where the two halves are joined), and tilt the bottle to 45 degrees (pointing it away from other people). Using the blunt side of your chosen weapon, slide it towards the cork in one fluid movement. If you’ve done it right, the top of the bottle will come straight off, and you’ll get a round of applause from your mates. However, if you’ve done it wrong, glass and wine will fly everywhere. Maybe you should leave sabrage to the experts!
With 24-hour convenience stores in many towns, you may not need to use any desperate measures to get your bottle of wine open. Just invest in a new corkscrew. Even if you find your old one, it’s always good to have a spare. Or you could call on a neighbor and ask to borrow a corkscrew. Better still, invite them in and offer them a glass. A bottle of wine is always better when you share!