How to Open a Wine Bottle Without a Corkscrew

Drink up, MacGyver.

Opening a bottle of wine can be tricky even with a corkscrew. But not having a corkscrew on hand can lead to all sorts of bottle-opening adventures, whether you’re planning to pair food and wine, make sangria, cook your favorite wine-fueled dish or just indulge in a glass. With a little bit of creativity and persistence you’ll be sipping Chardonnay in no time. Here are four ways to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew. Note that you should exercise caution with any of these methods, and when in doubt, save the bottle for another time, with better tools at your disposal.

Break Out the Toolbox

No corkscrew? No problem. If you have a toolbox handy you can jerry-rig your own way to lever the cork out of the bottle. If you have a long screw (the longer the better), a screwdriver and a hammer, you’re in business. Just use the screwdriver to twist the screw into the cork (using the same motion as you would with a corkscrew). Make sure to leave about an inch of screw to be able to pull that cork and screw out. Once the screw is in, take the back of a hammer and grip the screw. Make sure it’s locked in good before pulling out. The end result is hopefully an open bottle of wine!

Push the Cork In

If you aren’t opposed to pushing the cork into the bottle instead of pulling it out, a wooden spoon should do the trick. Make sure to peel off any foil or wax before pushing the cork down into the bottle using the spoon’s wooden handle. This technique is best for rubber corks or newer corks – a vintage bottle of wine has a better chance of some crumbling. If you do get some cork in, use a mesh strainer as you pour to help eliminate those floating bits.

Household items May Do the Trick

A key, wire hanger, a serrated knife or even a pair of scissors can often be your solution when you can’t use the real thing. Just be careful not to cut yourself. And if you don’t dig into the cork enough, you’ll end up just making a crumbly mess. Insert your chosen device into the cork at a 45-degree angle and start twisting like you would any corkscrew. If you placed it in correctly, you should see the cork starting to rise up until you can grab it out with your fingers.

Use Your Shoe

And what if you find yourself with a great bottle of wine and no stand-in tool? When all else fails, the wine itself can help, but this one requires a little bit of persistence and some responsible footwear. Nestle the bottom of the bottle into a flat-soled shoe — ideally one with decent cushion, but not the shock absorption of a running shoe — and position the bottle parallel to the ground, perpendicular to a solid wall. Holding them securely together, thwack the solel of the shoe against the wall — the corked end will be facing out — to use the wine within to cajole the cork out. With enough firm smacks, you’ll make progress, provided it’s a normal bottle, and not one with synthetic cork. "I’m a big fan of the old shoe trick," says Andrew Miller, founder of Good Fortune in Chicago. "Inserting the bottom of the wine bottle into a shoe and smacking it against the wall! It works like a charm every time."

The internet yields dozens more hacks, including bike pumps and beyond, but we like to err on the side of safety and effectiveness, so that you can get on with enjoying your bottle. Good luck!

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