It’s a Friday night, your house goals are at 100% and you’ve even got a home cooked meal waiting for you at the dinner table. You’re about to sit and eat, you grab your perfectly chilled bottle of Santa Margherita, Pinot Grigio – the same one you order at your favourite fine eatery; Surf N Turf, and you suddenly realise that your corkscrew is nowhere to be found.
While this would never happen when you’d be waiting to bite into your Grilled octopus served with potatoes and rosemary espuma while at our restaurant, sometimes tragedies take place at home, where home cooks are puzzled on what to do next should something go missing in the kitchen. Our very own award-winning sommelier, Joshua Borg answers a few of your ‘no corkscrew’ questions with his handy hacks:
Question 1: How do you open a wine bottle with a screwdriver?
Let’s start with the safest method. Using a similar apparatus to a corkscrew, a screwdriver! For this you will need: a screwdriver, a screw and a hammer. The effort here is quite strenuous, so pace yourself, this could take some time.
All you need to do is place your screw, the longer the better, and screw it into the cork until only about one inch of the screw is showing. Once you’ve achieved this tiring goal, use the back of your hammer to shimmy the cork out. You might want to get your strongest family member to get this job done but it is the safest and most effective solution when your corkscrew is on vacation.
Question 2: How do you open a wine bottle with a wooden spoon?
This one is probably the safest of options, no sharp items or heart racing moments involved – but it does have a downside; your cork will sink into the wine and there’s virtually no way to get it out.
If you are going to pour your wine into a carafe; this might not be a big issue – unless your cork is old. This will cause your cork to crumble into the wine; but fear not! A strainer will remove any bits floating around your Château La Fleur.
Simply find a wooden spoon or another blunt object, perch it over the cork of your stubborn wine bottle and gently push the cork in. Rather simple.
Question 3: How do you open a wine bottle with a knife?
This one can be dangerous, so keep your wits about you – luckily you’ve not had any wine yet… you might want to open the second bottle in advance. Much like our first option with the screwdriver, a serrated knife or key acts in the same way, turning into the cork and allowing you to pull the winding object back out.
You want to insert your key or knife at a 45 degree angle, twisting the cork slowly as you turn – after a few rotations, the cork should come out – if it does get stuck, your wooden spoon might be the solution.
Question 4: How do you open a wine bottle with heat?
Heat seems like the obvious answer, right? Well,mostly but if you’ve been chilling a bottle of New Zealand’s Hans Grey, Sauvignon Blanc – applying heat to the bottle will cause the cork to come out all right, but you can also expect quite an eruption. The sudden change in heat will cause the bottle to explode.
If your bottle is at room temperature, simply use a point of heat, like a blowtorch or a gas stove burner to prompt the cork out, it should pop out gracefully. We do recommend this as a last option, heat and wine don’t always make much sense for the palette.
Question 5: How do you open a wine bottle with a shoe?
Your trusty shoe could come in handy if you really can’t find that generic corkscrew you know you had somewhere. The reactor at play here… force! Use slight knocks onto your towel wrapped bottle and watch the corkscrew peak out of the wine bottle at a very slow and steady pace.
The only risk factor here is losing your wine. You’ll need to place the bottle in between your legs and hit the bottom of the bottle – the most important thing here… don’t let the entire cork come out or you’ll be looking at an evening of cleaning not relaxing.
Question 6: How do you open a wine bottle with a pump?
Simple solution coming your way; but it’s only possible if you have the right tools… a pump. Think bicycle pump, or football pump or something similar with a small nozzle attachment. All you have to do here is plunge your pump needle into the cork, until it comes out of the end, and push air into the bottle.
The increase in pressure will cry out for more space, and since the base is solid glass, the only thing that can loosen is the cork. Rather easy and quite fast, but finding the apparatus to get the job done might be tricky!
Question 7: How do you open a wine bottle with force?
OK, this one’s dangerous and way down on our list – not a solution for the weary or timid – this requires some guts! Similar to our shoe option in question 5; force is applied to the end of the wine bottle while it’s wrapped in a towel – this might require two towels to be on the safe side.
The only difference here is that you will be using the wall as the surface inflicting force and power – you’re literally going to bang the bottom of the wine bottle against the wall until the pressure in the bottle lets the cork lose. Go easy on the bottle; it’s still glass – and it will take a few nedges so don’t expect it to pop out on the first hit.
While all of the above techniques are hopeful solutions to keep your wine guzzling night going; these methods are quick fixes that do tend to fail at times. Try and try again, but remember safety first – an evening without a glass of red might not be a bad alternative to a cut hand or a broken wine bottle.
If you’re hoping to enjoy a rare or vintage bottle of wine, but cannot find your corkscrew; our expert sommelier recommends that you save that bottle for another day. Ruining a good bottle of wine is not the solution in any situation.