Sometimes, you get a chance to enjoy a bottle of wine far away from your kitchen. Maybe you're traveling or at a picnic. In these situations, it's handy to know how to uncork a wine bottle safely without a wine bottle opener. To help, we've outlined the steps for 8 of the safest, most foolproof ways to open wine bottles!
1) The Screw & Hammer Method
This method is the safest and most foolproof way to open a wine bottle.
You'll need a screwdriver, a screw (ideally longer than an inch), and a hammer.
- Drive the screw into the cork with the screwdriver until there's only a half-inch sticking out.
- Using the hammer, gently pull up on the screw as though you are removing a nail.
If you're gentle, the cork should come out perfectly without any damage to the wine or the cork.
2) The Wooden Spoon Method
This method works best if the wine is young or has minimal sediment. Keep in mind this should only be used if you intend to finish the bottle. You'll need a wooden spoon, external container, and a coffee filter or strainer.
- Using the handle of a wooden spoon, gently push the cork into the wine bottle.
- Put the coffee filter or strainer over the opening of another container.
- Pour the wine into the second container slowly, catching any loose cork in the coffee filter as you pour.
There's no way to retrieve the cork after you've done this, so make sure you're planning on finishing the wine.
3) The Bike Pump Method
The bike pump method also works with a ball pump or any manual pump with a needle at the end.
You'll need a bike pump with a needle.
- Insert the needle into the cork until it's all the way through the other end.
- Gently pump the wine bottle with air, which will drive the cork upward.
- Pull the cork out with your hand once it is pushed out enough. You don't want the cork to explode.
4) The Serrated Knife Method
This method also famously works with a regular set of keys, but it's a little easier to exert gentle force with a knife's handle. You'll need a key, a knife, or any sharp/flat object.
- Insert the object at a 45-degree angle into the cork without cutting through it.
- Rotate the object, pulling the cork up and out as you do.
Exert careful force and take your time—let the cork come up as you rotate.
5) The Towel Wrap Method
This one is risky, but if you take your time, it should work perfectly. You'll need 1-2 thick towels or blankets.
- Wrap the bottom of the bottle with towels or fabrics.
- Gently thump the bottom of the bottle against the wall.
- Repeat (being careful not to break the bottle) until the cork is nearly out.
- Remove the cork with your hand.
Don't try to get it all out at once! The key here is to move the cork a little at a time.
6) The Shoe Method
If you're really without resources, you can use your shoe to tap the cork out. For this, you'll just need a rigid-bottomed shoe with a bit of height, like a heeled dress shoe or a wedge heel.
- Place the bottle into the shoe with the bottom resting where your heel normally is.
- Holding the bottle against the shoe, tap it against the wall until you see the cork begin to move.
- Before the cork is fully out, remove it by hand.
Because there's less cushion than the blankets provide, it's extra vital to go slowly and apply gentle force.
7) The Other Shoe Method (Sitting Down)
Don't have a wall? Or maybe you're in a hotel with neighbors on the other side of the wall. Either way, this is a way to use your shoe to tap out the cork without making much noise. Fair warning, though: you'll need to be extremely vigilant about how far the cork moves with every tap.
- For this, you'll need a towel, a shoe like the one mentioned above, and a chair.
- Wrap the bottom of the wine bottle with the towel.
- While seated, put the bottle between your legs with the bottom facing up.
- With your shoe, tap the bottom of the bottle until you see the cork come partway out.
Make sure to check the cork before every tap; the worst-case scenario here is for the cork to come out all the way, spilling the wine.
8) The Wire Hanger Method
This tip demands just a little bit of extra labor, but it's a fairly safe method of cork removal.
- Unwind the wire hanger.
- Wind the hanger tightly around a cylindrical shape, like a dowel or the neck of the wine bottle itself.
- Insert the wire hanger into the cork the way you would a normal corkscrew.
- Once firmly inserted, gently pull the cork out of the bottle.
You may want to wrap a cloth when you're pulling to provide a better, more comfortable grip.