If you’ve landed on this page I’d imagine you must be in a bit of a pickle with a bottle of wine sitting in front of you and visions of a ruined night dancing before you eyes – all because you cannot for the life of you find a corkscrew anywhere! Never fear, I’ve been there myself and there are a number of different techniques out there to help you get that cork out of the bottle without A) breaking it or B) seriously injuring yourself.
1.Have you got a longish screw with a decent sized head and a hammer around anywhere?
If you do, fantastic! This is one of the easiest and safest ways to get the cork out. All you need to do is take the screw, and screw it into the cork until it is firmly stuck in there. What you want to avoid is not putting the screw in deeply enough and just shredding the cork. Once you have the screw firmly in the cork take your hammer, and using the claw part (not the bang bang part) hook that onto the head of the screw. Now you’re going to need to exert a fair bit of force to pull the cork out of the bottle. I recommed either holding it with your feet or if you have a buddy around one of you holds the bottle (upright please on a stable surface, unless you want to be covered in wine) and the other one pulls with the hammer. With any luck the cork will pop out an no one will hilariously fall backwards. Stand in front of something soft just in case.
2. Do you have a study stick or a perhaps a wooden spoon handy?
If you are fresh out of screws and hammers, and lets face it if you don’t have a corkscrew odds are you might not have tools either (I sure as hell didn’t). In that case the easiest thing to do here is to simply push the cork into the bottle. You’ll never get it out again but if you have a bottle stopper you can use that to keep the wine fresh otherwise you’ll need to drink the whole bottle (oh no! what a shame ;). This will work really well with the synthetic corks a lot of wine bottles use these days as there is much less chance they’ll disintegrate in the bottle. Natural corks are a lot more likely to fall to pieces in which case you’ll want to use a strainer or a thin (clean!!) piece of material to strain out the bits when you pour.
3.Do you have a bicycle pump with a needle attachement?
You might, cycling is really popular these days so I’m guessing at least one person reading this will have the right bike pump around somewhere. All you need to do in this case is take the needle attachment, push it through the cork so it reaches the inside of the bottle and then start pumping. The air that you pump into the bottle will push the cork out nice and cleanly. I would say this is the best method so far but it will only work if you have the right pump.
4. Do you have a wall/floor/hard surface and/or a shoe handy?
This method relies on repeted, GENTLE, percussive force to gradually inch the cork out of the bottle. (think getting ketchup out of the bottle, same technique) What you need to do is take your shoe or even flip flop (if you’re at the beach for example) put the wine bottle into the heel of the shoe and then repeatedly hit the bottom of the shoe with either your hand or a hard surface. The cork will gradually inch its way out and when it is out enough to grab you can finish the job with your hands. The key to this method is to use enough force to get the cork to move but not so much force that you break the bottle or the cork pops out quickly leading to wine spillage everywhere. Take your time with this one and in the end you will be rewarded with an open bottle of wine.
5. Have you checked if it might be a screw cap?
Lots of wine these days comes with a screw cap instead of a cork. But, because the top of the bottle is all wrapped up it can sometimes be really hard to tell. So, please unwrap the top of the bottle first to make sure it’s not a screw cap. If it is a screw cap, well, you didn’t need to read all this did you?
Enjoy your wine!