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How To Open A Wine Bottle Without A Corkscrew

Meghan Fitzgerald

We’ve all been there.

You’re at a friend’s house or on a Sunday picnic and you go to open your favorite bottle of wine - perhaps one of the bottles from your most recent Gold Medal Wine Club shipment - and you suddenly realize you forgot the wine key, otherwise known as a corkscrew or a bottle opener, or maybe the bottle is unconventionally capped with a crown or wax seal.

Only last week, this writer herself was put to the test when confronted with a perfectly aged 2012 Sangiovese, Magnum sized, impeccably labeled...and sealed in wax. Should you ever find yourself in a similar situation, light a match and take fire to that seal. The wax will melt right off! However, beneath the wax still lies the cork and without a corkscrew, you might as well be a parched castaway on an island surrounded by salt water. least that would have been the case if you hadn’t visited the Gold Medal Wine Club and stumbled across this article!

Just think of us as your island wellspring, only instead of fresh water, we provide a fresh perspective. So, put down that wine key and pick up a few of these tricks instead!

The methods of opening a wine bottle we'll cover today:
  1. A screwdriver, a screw, and a hammer

  2. A wooden utensil

  3. A lighter

  4. A blow torch

  5. A serrated knife

  6. A towel, a hammer, a container, and a sieve

Now, let's get started!

Wine bottle with two screws sticking out of the cork

Opening wine with a screw & screwdriver

Where there’s a will...there is wine!

Your determination having been established, intrepid reader, we turn to the everyday household objects you no doubt have at your disposal to channel that tenacity to your benefit...and to a well deserved glass of your favorite wine!

A screw isn’t exactly a corkscrew, but in a pinch, it will do! Using a screwdriver, drive the screw through the cork as far as it will go and then, using a hammer, pull the cork right out. This is an involved method that employs multiple tools and not an inconsiderable amount of strength, but the effort is well worth the reward. As a wine of the month club member, you, of course, already know all about it.

Opening a wine bottle with a wooden utensil

A simpler method employs a utensil with a blunt, slim handle, such as a wooden ladle, you can use to push the cork down into the bottle, and voila! The deed is done. I will caution that depending on the force you apply and the quality of the seal, the cork may crumble, but you need only run your wine through a strainer or sieve to combat this minor catch.

Just think!

You’ll have had a hand in the filtering of your own wine.

A hand holds a zippo-style lighter with flame ignited

How to open a wine bottle with a lighter

Out of the frying pan...and bring on the fire!

The following methods employ the use of heat to remove that stubborn stopper, so proceed with a healthy dose of caution and not any small amount of daring. To begin, we present for your unconventional uncorking pleasure, the lighter.

Simply remove the foil from your chosen bottle, exposing the cork, and hold the lighter - Zippo, coil, arc, whatever suits your ignition preference - up so that the flame is licking the neck of the bottle just at the spot where the cork is inserted. Rotate the bottle in your hand, allowing the flame to heat the complete circumference of the neck, in turn heating the air beneath the cork, facilitating expansion, which will force the cork upwards and eventually out. This process is a practice in patience, but nonetheless a tried-and-true technique for uncorking the bottle and unscrewing yourself!

The use of a blow torch, an option we explore next, is a practice very similar to the use of a lighter, except that the heat is higher and the fire is held an inch or so from the bottleneck rather than flush against the glass. The applied heat from the blow torch will have the same effect as the heat from the lighter, causing the air to expand and lift the cork until it pops right out. The increased level of heat from the blow torch will translate to the bottle and accelerate this process, so be sure to wear gloves and have a glass on standby!

A set of kitchen knifes laying on cutting board

How to open a wine bottle with a knife

Desperate times call for desperate measures...and possibly a knife!

Odds are you have a kitchen knife stashed away somewhere in your kitchen, even if you don’t have a corkscrew, (a baffling situation) you, a maven of all things enological, cannot even begin to comprehend, let alone explain. However, even the most celebrated of Somms forgets the nose on a Cabernet Sauvignon every other Tuesday night.

Though a knife most likely wouldn’t help a forgetful Somm during the weekday dinner ‘rush’, its serrated edge will certainly help you open that bottle. It couldn’t be more simple. Firmly grasp the handle of your chosen knife and stick the blade through the top of the cork at a diagonal angle. Proceed to pry the cork from the bottleneck by twisting the blade and applying pressure in an upward motion.

Should the cork break, don’t worry! Just do exactly what you would do should this happen with a corkscrew...reinsert the tool and pluck the cork right out. The process is potentially a messy one and it may take a few attempts, but think of it as a $2 wine...not exactly ideal, but it gets the job done.

A smashed bottle of red wine on the ground

How to open a wine bottle by smashing it

Just be sure to practice caution...and your swing!

I have yet to mention or explain the one method thought up or brought up first when the occasion for corking without a corkscrew arises. I am here to tell you that, yes, smashing the bottle is a viable action to take when confronted with the aforementioned situation.

Believe it or not, there is technique in smashing your bottle. First, don your gloves and protective eyewear and then locate a towel, the thicker the better, and a hammer. Proceed to wrap the towel around the base of the bottle and hold the snug bottle over a large container. Holding the bottle by the neck, bring the hammer down on the portion of the bottle wrapped in the towel.

The released wine will escape through the towel and descend into the bucket, leaving the glass shards behind caught in the towel. If we may lay down another safety cone, we recommend running the wine through a strainer or a sieve to catch the stray bits of glass that might have slipped from the towel into the container.

6 ways to open wine without an opener

In a nutshell...or in a glass!

To recap on the uncap, let us recall the methods discussed:

  1. A screwdriver, a screw, and a hammer

  2. A wooden utensil

  3. A lighter

  4. A blow torch

  5. A serrated knife

  6. A towel, a hammer, a container, and a sieve

Now, let us recall the purpose:

A glass of wine

Whether you’re good with a hammer or know your way around a blow torch, let innovation - along with your friendly go-to informants at Gold Medal Wine Club - be your guide. After all, in a less-than-ideal situation, you can look at the glass half empty or you can look at the glass half full. At least, if you give one of these methods a try, you won’t be looking at the glass completely empty.


Meghan Fitzgerald Author Bio Picture Author Bio: Meghan ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald is a recent graduate of enology and viticulture from the Institute for Enology and Viticulture in Walla Walla Washington and currently works as a contributing author for the wine marketing industry with a focus in content writing. She continues to write feature pieces for Gold Medal Wine Club as she works toward establishing herself as a professional writer within the wine industry.