Wine is one of the most popular beverages in the world and has been for centuries. The earliest remnants of wine were discovered in what is now Iran, and date back to sometime around 5000 B.C. During periods where access to clean water was scarce, like in ancient Roman times, people drank wine instead of water, because of the natural fermentation that killed germs.
Fast forward to modern times, wine is still a beloved beverage all around the world, and especially in the United States. The U.S is responsible for 12% of the world’s wine consumption. There are endless varieties of wine on the market today, from reds to whites, sweet to dry, cheap to expensive.
No matter what type of wine you prefer, we can all agree that nothing kills the mood like being caught without a wine opener. Nothing is more painful than having a full, perfectly selected bottle of vino and not being able to access it. But don’t worry! It’s actually possible to uncork a bottle of wine without a wine opener at all.
In this article, we’ll teach you all about why wine can be difficult to open, and a bunch of creative, fun ways to open up a wine bottle. Whether your wine opener is missing or you just want to show off a cool party trick, you’re sure to love these fun wine-opening hacks.
Why is wine corked?
You may be wondering why some bottles of wine come corked while others are sold with a twist-off cap. Cork is the number one material used to seal wine bottles. Every wine drinker knows the struggle of dealing with a defective cork or sipping your wine and getting a mouthful of cork bits. Does wine really need to be so difficult to open?
Part of the reason wine bottles are corked is due to tradition. Cork has been used to seal wine bottles for thousands of years. Cork is popular because it slows down the oxidation process but allows for some airflow into the bottle. This allows the wine to slowly age and evolve over time.
The ideal cork allows only one milligram of oxygen to enter the bottle every year. This tiny amount of air removes the sulfites that were added in the bottling process to keep the wine fresh, yet stops the harmful effect of oxidation. Cork has been used to seal wine since the late 1600s, but it took until the 1700s to develop an easy-to-use corkscrew for wine drinkers and tavern owners.
Luckily, there are a variety of ways to open a wine bottle, even without a corkscrew. Whether you forgot to pack your wine opener for a picnic, or yours has mysteriously disappeared from your drawer, these creative wine-opening hacks will ensure you’re prepared for any situation.
Creative ways to open a wine bottle
As a disclaimer: these ways to open a wine bottle are not 100% foolproof, and should be done very carefully, and preferably before you’ve had anything to drink.
1. A screw, screwdriver, and hammer
If you’re caught without a wine opener, but you do have access to a tool kit, using a screw, screwdriver, and a hammer is a pretty effective way to uncork a wine bottle. Simply grab a screw (the longer, the better), and screw it into the cork with your screwdriver until there’s only about an inch of the screw left exposed. Now, take the backside of your hammer, lock it under the screw, and pull the cork out. Simple, right? Just be careful wielding heavy tools around a glass wine bottle!
2. Push the cork in
This method isn’t ideal, because you’ll have the cork floating around in the bottle, but if you’re really in a jam, this is an easy way to get access to the wine inside your bottle. Take something long and study, such as the handle of a wooden spoon, and push the cork down inside the wine bottle.
Be aware that once you’ve pushed the cork in, it’s nearly impossible to get it back out, so you won’t be able to re-cork the bottle and save any unfinished wine. If the bottle of wine is old, the cork may also crumble and shed into the wine. If this happens, just use a strainer to get all the cork bits out while you pour the wine into a decanter.
3. Use a bike pump
If you have the kind of bike pump that comes with a needle attachment, give this method a try! It’s really simple. Take the needle and plunge it through the cork, ensuring that it penetrates all the way through until it reaches the air between the cork and the wine. Then, begin pumping air into the bottle. The extra air will even create enough pressure inside the bottle to push the cork out. Be careful; it may pop out forcefully, like a bottle of champagne.
4. Twist it out with a key
For this method, grab any key you have lying around. This works best with keys that have teeth, so it can grip the cork better. You can also use a serrated knife for this method, but keys are a little bit safer.
Plunge your key into the cork at a 45-degree angle. Grab the handle of the key and move it in a circle, so you’re slowly twisting the cork out. After a few rotations, the top of the cork should pop up, and you’ll be able to yank it out. Make sure your key is really securely lodged into the cork, because if it’s not, your cork may crumble.
5. Use a wire hanger
Wire hangers come in handy for all types of household jobs, like unclogging a drain or picking a lock (we won’t ask any questions about why you’re picking locks). Opening a wine bottle is yet another of their uses. This works similarly to the key method. Simply plunge the end of your wire hanger into the cork, ensuring it’s in there securely. Then, twist until the cork becomes exposed and give it a good yank.
6. Use pliers
With a small paring knife and a pair of pliers, you should be able to yank the cork out. Make a small cut with your knife on either side of the cork. Then, using a pair of pliers, or even some curved nail scissors, insert into the cuts you made, grip, and yank the cork out. Because you’re cutting the cork, this may result in some cork crumbling into the wine, but you can always strain it, or even pour your wine through a coffee filter to remove the bits.
7. Smack the bottle against the wall
This method might sound a little crazy, but trust us: if done correctly, it really works. However, this method can be a little dangerous, so only use it as a last resort. Grab one or two thick towels, and wrap them around your wine bottle to cushion it. Then, smack the bottom of the bottle against the wall repeatedly until the cork slowly pops out.
Obviously, this method does risk breaking your bottle, which is why it’s always important to use towels and do this very carefully. The cork won’t pop out on your first try, so don’t try to use your full strength and smack the bottle too hard to get it out. Hit the bottle firmly and repeatedly until the cork is dislodged.
8. Slap it with a shoe
This method works similarly to the towel and wall method, but it’s a bit safer. Just like the last one, wrap your bottle in a towel for protection. Grab a sturdy, flat-bottomed shoe, and smack the end of the bottle repeatedly to dislodge the cork. You may need a friend to hold the bottle for you while you do this. You can also turn the bottle upside down to get a little help from gravity, but make sure you stop before the cork is completely out, or you’ll spill your wine everywhere.
9. Apply heat
This method involves applying heat to your bottle and using the laws of science to your advantage. For this method, you’ll need a blowtorch or a really powerful lighter. Make absolutely sure your bottle is not cold because the sudden change in temperature can cause the glass to shatter.
To pop the cork out, apply heat with your blow torch or lighter to the spot on the neck of your wine bottle right below the cork. Spin your bottle to apply heat evenly around the neck. The heat will force the cork to move upward, and eventually, out of the bottle.
You can entertain yourself for hours with all these fun and creative ways to open a wine bottle! However, if you have a corkscrew, we advise you to use it, as it is the safest and easiest way to open your wine.
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