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No Corkscrew? No Problem

Different Ways to Open a Wine Bottle Without a Corkscrew

By Simon Koscielski

pexels-photo-121191-1

Photo by Markus Spiske/Pexels

I recently got into wine the past few months trying the various types. A problem I found myself in numerous times was not having a corkscrew.

In order to get the tasty drink flowing, I needed to get creative. What do you do when you need answers? You go to Google of course.

I found a handful of techniques to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew on WonderHowTo.com and WikiHow.com.

I also sought out advise from a wine shop in Lakeview called wineHouse. I had the privilege to talk to the manager Melissa Zeman and ask her some questions.

wineHouse is a one of a kind store that offers unique wine that you can’t find at larger retailers. They also have a wine club and free wine tastings twice a week. It is a great place to get your wine accessories and gain some knowledge about the vast types of wines.

The techniques I used to open a bottle without a corkscrew are ones that people can try in any situation with tools they have around them. Below I outline what works and what doesn’t.

DO push the cork in

This is a very simple and quick technique.

  • Find a skinny kitchen utensil, like a wooden spoon.
  • Use the end to push the cork in.

Warning, due to pressure once you push the cork in a little bit of wine will shoot out of the bottle. I recommend doing this over a sink or wrapping a towel around the top of the bottle.

DO bang the bottle against the wall

IMG_5474

Photo by: Simon Koscielski

This sounds like a terrible idea but let me explain.

  • Place the bottle in the heel of a shoe. I used my converse shoes.
  • As the picture shows, hold the bottle in the shoe and horizontally bang the bottom of the shoe against the wall.
  • I used medium force and banged it about 15 times before the cork was almost completely out.
  • At that point I simply pulled the cork out. (Beware wine also shot out when I took the cork out, probably caused by shaking the bottle.)

I really like this method, as all you need is a shoe, which allows you to open a bottle pretty much anywhere.

DO drill a screw in the cork and pull it out with a hammer

Photos by: Simon Koscielski

Photos by: Simon Koscielski

This is a method I have been using for the past couple months since I didn’t have a corkscrew but I did have power tools.

  • First, drill two screws into the cork but not all the way in.
  • You need a little space at the top to use a hammer to pull the screws out as pictured above.

The first couple times I tried this I only used one screw but it would sometimes rip out of the cork before getting it out of the bottle. When I tried two screws it worked like a charm.

DON’T use an apartment key

IMG_5459

Photo by Simon Koscielski

WonderHowTo.com made this method look very simple.

  • The guy in the video shoved his car key diagonally into the cork.
  • Once it was almost all the way in, he begins to twist the key while pulling up at the same time.
  • For him the cork smoothly came out as if he was using a corkscrew.

I was able to get my key in the cork but when I started to twist and pull up my key just started ripping the cork apart. At this point I just had to push the cork into the bottle. If you are going to try it use a strong key or one that isn’t important as my key bent.

DON’T use Scissors or a knife

I do not recommend this method but this is how it is supposed to work.

  • You are supposed to simply stick a knife or one blade of scissors into the cork.
  • Once it is mostly in you twist and pull like with the key method above.

I tried using scissors. When I was pushing it into the cork it ended up pushing the cork into the bottle and wine splashing all over me. So technically I opened the bottle, but not how I intended to.

DON’T use a clothes hanger

This is not as simple as WikiHow.com explained it.

  • Take a cheap hanger and bend the hook part straight.
  • Then bend the end slightly so it looks like a small fishhook.
  • Push the hanger down the side of the cork until the hook part is underneath the cork.
  • At this point make sure the hook part is lined up in the center of the cork and pull the cork out.

I wasn’t even able to get the hanger down the side of the cork. My only guess is that my hanger was too thick. But still, this method was the most time consuming to try and still didn’t work.

DON’T heat the bottle

In this method you place the bottle in boiling water, which would naturally push the cork out. Melissa Zeman explained, “Three things that are terrible for wine in excess: sunlight, air, and heat! This [putting the bottle in boiling water] will cause the wine to “cook” which can turn it sour and just plain bad.”

Summary

The easiest method is just pushing in the cork. My favorite is banging the bottle against the wall since all you need is a shoe, it is fast, and you can do it pretty much anywhere.

However, Melissa Zeman emphasized the best solution, “Corkscrew. Hands-down. Especially the double-hinged waiter’s corkscrew, which prevents the cork from breaking in half.”

 

  • written by Simon Koscielski on November 29th, 2016
  • posted in Edit
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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.