How To Open A Bottle of Wine When You Don’t Have A Corkscrew

Wine is trickling its way into my foodie consciousness: after dinner with Clotilde where the Babbo waiter paired some dishes with wine, I’m really starting to understand how wine enhances the overall dining experience. I like this Hemingway quote posted today on Gothamist Food: “In Europe we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also a great giver of happiness and well being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary.”

Friday night, I was too lazy to cook. It was hot and rainy or maybe it was cold and snowy: I don’t remember. All I remember is that I ordered a pizza again from Pizza 33. It’s a delicious pizza: crisp wood-fired dough; fresh cheese and sauce and basil. But a thought struck me as I opened the lid: “This pizza looks nice and all, but do you know what would make it better? Wine!”

I ran out the door and darted across 6th avenue to my nearest wine shop. I purchased a bottle of cheap Chianti—I wanted an Italian wine. I paid and ran back across the street, up the elevator to my apartment and through the door. Was the pizza still hot? Barely; now just warm—but warm enough.

Let’s get this bottle open. Where’s the corkscrew? Corkscrew, present yourself!

Instant recollection: a few weeks earlier, I was on the roof with friends drinking wine. We brought up wine and glasses and…the corkscrew! Now it’s gone forever, no way it’s still on the roof. And here I am with a bottle of wine: what do I do? The pizza’s getting cold!

I turned to the greatest resource available to us in the modern age. The internet! I googled: “opening wine without a corkscrew.” I came across a site that gave the following advice: put a butter knife in the cork, hammer it in and push the cork through. This seemed wildly dangerous, but I was desperate. Here are my tools:

(Ignore the cat milk: that’s Lolita’s wine of choice.)

What can I say? It worked. I made a mess–wine splashed everywhere–but the butter knife pushed the cork down (I hit it very lightly with the hammer) and then I used my knife sharpener to thrust the cork all the way in. I then used my rubber cork stopper to stopper the wine after I’d drank my fill.

The moral of the story is that no obstacle, however large and/or daunting, should prevent you from celebrating life with wine. A corkscrew, however, makes the celebration just a tad bit better.

65 thoughts on “How To Open A Bottle of Wine When You Don’t Have A Corkscrew”

  1. Butterknife? Ehhh – if you’ve got tools, you’ve probably got a screw around. Twist that puppy in there and pull it out with a pair of pliers.

    Not that I’ve ever needed to resort to such a thing more than once or twice ;)

  2. I live here in the old-world; the deprived/depraved south of europe and I have _never_ heard of ‘catmilk’! What have I been missing? And how do they fit the little milking stool and bucket underneath one?

  3. We were in Cape Town and had purchased a nice red from Stellenbosch and discovered we were sans corkscrew. My Dad, being the Engineer he is, devised a genius, if not desperate way to open a bottle. He grabbed 2 kitchen knives, unscrewed the door hinge off the door with one of the knives, screwed the screw from the hinges into the cork, then positioned the 2 knives on either side and pulled. Out came the cork. Desperate, but successfull!

  4. our college wine-drinking involved plenty of pushing corks into bottles until I eventually broke down and bought a cheap corkscrew. you can push a cork in with pretty much anything (including, but not limited to, whiteboard markers, strong chopsticks, and scissors)

  5. I have used a coat hanger bent into a hook. Slide it down the side of the cork until the hook is in the bottle (with the hook flat against the side, turn the hook when it is all the way in, pull up, and voila! You spill a lot less this way, too.

  6. You may have discovered the final step after reopening the bottle: decant the wine into a clean vessel as soon as possible, to minimize the cork flavor, which can ruin any wine, cheap or costly.

  7. pushing the cork in – i hate to say it – is for amateurs. twist a screw in and then use a fork to pry out the cork. has worked twice for me. you might be worried about the possibility of ripping the screw out of the cork when the time comes but, trust me, you needn’t be.

  8. I froze a bottle of white the other night (accidentally – I was chilling it and forgot). Wouldn’t you know the cork was almost completely extended out.

    I sat the bottle in a bowl to defrost, never had to touch the cork with anything but my fingers.

  9. Interesting choice of using Hemingway as a spokesperson for drinking wine, him being an alcoholic who ended his life by shooting himself in the head.

  10. papa wrapped his mouth around the remington because his dear friends the cubans were forced to seize his property in cojimar, outside of la habana.

    besides all that, wine is a healthy tipple, popping the cork into the bottle doesnt need a hammer, and the real trick is get that cork out after, keeping the bottle intact of course.. try using nothing but a linen napkin.

    it is possible

    and forget corkscrews, true sommeliers use those big screw in hooks you buy at the hardware store, you know the kind to hang the ladder in the garage

  11. One more reason to carry a pocketknife with a corkscrew. Also makes a great marlin spike for shoelaces and a great staple remover.

  12. I just get Art Garfunkel to come by with his compressor and create a total vacuum around the outside the bottle.

    Blows the cork right out.

  13. pushing a cork into a bottle, surely not the best thing for the taste of the wine?

    anyone ever heard of ‘corking’ a bottle…

  14. LOL!!!!! I cracked up when I saw that u went on the net 2 search of ‘how 2 open a bottle of wine w/o a corkscrew’; I just now did the same thing lol. It surely does work. At 1st I thought that somehow the cork would mess w/the taste of the wine but it doesn’t (duh lol). Anyway, thanx 4 the laugh.

  15. Brian Stevenson

    So I’m almost 30 and hanging out in my sister’s dorm room. My wife wanted to drink some wine so we brought it over assuming there would be a corkscrew around. Of course there wasn’t. Here’s what I did: I took a phillips screwdriver and I hammered the screwdriver all the way into the cork until just the handle was left sticking out. Of course that meant the end of the screwdriver was touching the wine, but don’t worry–alcohol kills all germs. Then I just pulled out the cork using the handle of the screwdriver. No mess and the cork is intact. So really, all you need is a phillips screwdriver and a hammer. And I’m sure the hammer could be substituted with a book or anything heavy and hard. Problem solved!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Use one of those hooks with the screw at the end, then use an overhang to hook the hook on. Pull down on the bottle and the cork pops right out!

  17. I’ve used chopsticks, old wire coathangers, screwdrivers..all in conjunction with a hammer or rock or lump of wood! Also have once used a pocket knife to dig the cork out, but the wine then had to be strained through cheese cloth!! years of camping in the Australian bush makes for a very experienced wine opener!! “throw another snag on the barbie mate!!!!”…you kknow we dont actually talk like that?!

  18. i once remember reading somewhere that if you are able to suck the cork out of a bottle of wine that it would burn up

    750,000 calories. sure takes the worry

    out of eating pizza!

  19. I once got stranded in a hotel during a romantic weekend away with my boyf and we had a bottle of wine and no utensils at hand other than a teaspoon. So I banged that all the way through the cork with my shoe until it came out the other side, then pushed the cork into the bottle with my finger. Desperate times call for desperate measures! In fact for many years that was my proudest party piece!

  20. Ha – Great posts everyone – I ran into the same problem this July 4th. Looked thru my tool box and found a screw hook [like for hanging stuff from the ceiling]. I then proceeded to gather about 5 big wrenches – big enough to allow the cork to pass thru but not so big that they wouldn’t lay on the top perimeter of the wine bottle neck. Screwed the hook screw in – Shimed the top of the bottle with the open end of a wrench [the other end was being braced by the top of my microwave…lol] Took a pair of channel lock pliers – turned them upside down and levered them against the top of the wrench allowing the cork to be pulled out some. Of course I had to keep shimming with extra wrenches until I got the cork all the way out – But Hey – NO MESS and SAVED THE CORK! LOL – Too funny!!! CHEERS!!!

  21. thanks for the advise, i just popped the cork into the bottle and i’m now enjoying a nice glass of white wine :) obviously i’m not the only one who had the great idea to go to find the solution from internet.

  22. Do not despair if you only have a knife. Just press it in trough the cork (bang it in with a rock or a heavy can of beans), then twist slightly (to create friction) while you pull it. That did the trick for me.

  23. i tried the screw an fork method. i got called a lot of names but made them all eat their words when i didnt spill a drop

  24. holly and stephanie

    put hole all the way through, it swelled and was bubbling from the top… then stab it a few more times and the cork comes right out, this way u do not have to push it in.

  25. ok- it worked!!! I used the hook – shaped like a question mark. Screwed it in and gently pulled it out by moving it from side to side. This site saved me from running back to the grocery store, during the cooking of my meal. yee haw!

  26. We’re not wine drinkers but bought a bottle for cooking. It’s Thanksgiving day, 10:30 am, and we realize we don’t have a corkscrew. Of course I googled it, and was inspired by the creativity I found here. This was a particularly stubborn cork–it wouldn’t push through. I ended up putting two screws in the cork, one on each side, and using pliers to work the cork out. Such a sweet sound when it finally gave way! Cheers!

  27. Hi, five of our friends have completed having the first wine bottle. One more bottle is waiting for us.

    Then we realized that cark screw is missing. Ours is a pure bachelor room.( so u can undestand it.) So we got one knife and start digging into the bottle. The cark seems made with some different material. So it is like rubber. Finally after 209 minutes, it somehow got lossen up. But it frequently abstrubting the flow. This is our little story of opening the wine bottle without having the carkscrew.

  28. Tugged on the corkscrew for half an hour but couldnt get the cork out, so the next thing I did obviously was to google for tips and this site was on top. The slamming the bottom of the bottle worked for me, except I used my elbow to deliver half a dozen blows. Spilled some wine when I tried pulling again coz I wasnt expecting the cork to come out that easily :)

  29. a slight variation to ones mentioned above. screwed a screw in the corkscrew and then used a can opener to squeeze the screw (between the opener’s handles) and levereaged the cork right out – 5 seconds.

  30. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! Yes, I googled the problem and found this. I opted to use a Philipshead screwdriver instead though. Blueberry wine is GREAT!

  31. I used a magic marker and a towel (to make sure it doesn’t splash everywhere- worked fine. Tonight, I just can’t go without my red wine!

  32. ….okay….i google everything when i need a quick answer….my brother bought a bottle of red wine for me…a nice gift of ‘have a nice evening in your space sister’….i hardly ever drink, but i was quite excited to have a glass…i found some old wine glasses in my future yard sale boxes and washed them carefully…then i found a drywall screw and a pair of pliers….i tried…but the screw slide back out! BUMMER….so googled and had a good laugh….i’m a genius like everyone else….just needed some reassurance….i tried again put the screw to the side more and used the lip of the bottle as leverage…and i kept every drop for myself…i don’t think i’ll need to invest in a cork screw…:)

  33. we used a long (2 1/2 inch screw) and pliers after reading this site. Worked like a charm. Use the players like you would a wine key by arching the pliers gently against the glass of the tip of the wine bottle to create leverage. Once the cork is out a little, use the pliers on the cork and gently twist it out, making sure not to destroy the cork!


  34. I’ve used a power drill with a large bit once at a mechanics shop. We just drilled it out. Made a mess. Next time that happens, I’ll remember pounding the bottle on a wall a few times.

  35. Last week I was opening a bottle of Goof and my corkscrew broke, with the screw part still in the cork. I used a screw hook and Vice Grips and a wooden spoon to protect the top of the bottle and leveraged it out. I did not know about this web site, so it took awhile to figure it out. And there were no pieces of cork in the wine, (like the guy with the drill LOL).

    Tonight I found this site cause I couldn’t get the cork to come out even with a corkscrew and was wondering if there is a trick to opening wine. I usually drink beer and have no problems at all. After reading all the helpfull hints, I used the Vice Grips and a wooden spoon again.

  36. Thank you. I thought I would never open that bottle,the screw and the pliers worked for me. It me amazes the information you can find on the internet.

  37. I’m in heaven……I travel and host parties all over nyc, la, and now rainy cold wet seattle. I buy and leave/loose wine corkscrews, wanted to chill out watch Entourage, have a smoke w/my Gabbino Pinot Gri. Drove a screw w/a hammer, in goes cork. I’ll finish the bottle so none goes to waste. =) I’m a happy man.

  38. I was opening a bottle of wine with an old opener and the part you pull with pulled apart from the screw so the screw was still stuck in the cork. I googled on how to get the cork out without an opener and found this site. I tried hitting it against the wall but that didn’t work, so I got a knife and banged it in with a rolling pin. When it was halfway in, the glass at the tip split and glass started flying off. But I was able to get the cork out and no glass got in the wine. :)

  39. Place a clean dime on the top of the cork and push down. Both the dime and the cork will fall into the bottle but oh well!

  40. The above comment, obviously you need to push down on the dime with a long screw driver.I forgot to mention that! Cheers

  41. Esteban Booglioso

    Once, just once, go without wine. Then, get a pocket corkscrew and carry it with you like a pocket knife. Unlike your pcoket knife, it will make you a hero more times than you can imagine.

    Oh, the other thing: household corkscrews whould be big – it makes them easy to spot, and less likely to wander.

  42. just learned the hard way that the wood screw trick doesn’t work well with those space age rubber-ish corks; the screw just keeps pulling out. however, slowly twisting back and forth with a paring knife buried in it works like a charm. just tried it and after about 20 seconds of twisting the cork was out and completely intact with no spills. now to enjoy my mead…

  43. I tried several of the above, but the cork was not cork material, some strange material. After about 20 minutes, I took a hammer, hit at the neck and it came off clean. I have never been able to uncork a bottle with store bought corkscrews. Maybe I should just go out or drink liquor. I hate beer.

  44. The screw and pliers trick didn’t work for me–the screw kept coming out of the cork when I pulled it with the pliers. Repeated attempts just destroyed the cork. I tried hammering a butter knife to push the cork through, and although I was successful, I ended up cracking the lip of the bottle and catching a small piece of the glass in my foot later.

  45. I tried most of these ideas and none of them worked. I tried a screw and knives.. but the screw kept coming out and riped the cork..I tried to hit the bottom to get the pressure build up to push the cork out but i kept hurting my hand, elbow, foot.. everything that I read would be good to hit it with… so I remembered that I had nail clippers with a little knife attached..hammered that in with the knife that I was using earlier and was able to get the cork to twist.. I got it half way out and the knife slipped out.. I asked my roommate to help pull it out and she ripped the cork in half. I wasnt able to get the rest out so I tried to push the rest of the cork inside the bottle.. It was held at the bottom of the neck with the pressure behind it so I tipped the bottom and pushed the cork in… I dont want the wine anymore… I NEED it after all that

  46. You know what I hate?

    Those horrible little foam corks you get in expensive wine these days.

    In goes the cork screw, out comes fluff.

    So again, you try, assuming a more positive position and exerting and almost embarrassing amount of force.

    Once again, nylon wads of candy floss are pouring out over the sides, you eventually attempt to “bore down” to the wine, only to saturate your lovely red booze with what appears to be bits of glass and wood..

    .. Fuck you Tesco.

    And fuck your fucking corks!

  47. I had this problem last week, but I opted for a more direct approach.

    I propped the bottle up against the edge of the sink and whacked the neck with a hammer. Yep, so I lost perhaps a glass’ worth of wine – and I had to meticulously pour the rest through a fine sieve to minimise my chances of drinking glass… but I got my drink.

  48. I’d just like to tell the world that I used the small knife in my Miracle blade collection and hammered it into the cork and twisted it really hard and corked it successfully. That is all.

  49. Okay, it is possible to do this and it’s really easy to do.

    Just take a small sharp knife. A pocket knife works perfectly. Push it into the cork at least halfway. Then begin twisting the knife and the cork while pulling upwards. The cork should slide right out, no problem.

  50. if you take one of the eye-screws… dont know the technical term for them, but the ones with the loop at the end, screw it it, and put a pen through the loop. hold it on either side of the loop and pull. worked perfectly.

  51. after 2 hours of fighting with the bottle and reading everything on the internet…. i FINALLY WON! …drinking wine with the cork in it..ha

  52. just hammer a butter knife half way through the cork it doesnt have to be a hammer i used a lemon squeezer and simply twist up and out.

  53. I just stab in a paring knife and twist it up and out.

    Worked for about 10 bottles before I bought a corkscrew.

  54. Bought a $8 bottle of White Zinfindel on a whim while at the grocery store. Thought I’d drink it this evening, completely forgetting that I don’t have a corkscrew. Being the internet researching genius that I am, I googled and landed here. My bottle was stopped by one of those rubber/synthetic corks. Stuck a paring knife in and twisted for a while and it eventually came out. I’m not drinking the whole bottle in one night, so now it’s stopped with saran wrap and a rubber band.

    And what I’m really wondering is: A friggin $8 bottle of wine is not worth that much trouble. Ah well.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top