You’d think after consuming, oh, about 1.2 million glasses of wine, we’d have opening a bottle down to a science — but unfortunately, things sometimes still go awry. And it’s no exaggeration to say that breaking a cork while it’s still in the bottle neck is one of life’s greatest tragedies. The only situation we would consider worse is when you get a bottle of wine home only to realize you don’t even have an opener.
Luckily, there are tricks to opening a bottle of wine when the cork isn’t cooperating or when you don’t have a traditional opener to do the job for you.
1. Use an Ah-so wine opener instead of a typical corkscrew
If a regular corkscrew always seems to give you trouble, give an Ah-so a try. Also known as a “Waiter’s Friend,” this two-pronged corkscrew is wedged around the cork and pulls it out of the bottle, unlike a regular corkscrew that penetrates the cork itself. If you don’t have to twist so much, it’s a lot easier to keep things under control.
2. Put a hole in it
If your cork looks too crumbly to withstand the corkscrew or your don’t have a corkscrew on hand, try poking a small hole in the center of the cork with a sharp, thin nail or very slender drill bit and then pouring the wine through. If you use this method, make sure to pour the wine through a filter to catch any errant bits of cork.
3. Use a shoe
This method takes a little patience but works like a charm. Place your bottle of wine in the heel of a hard-soled shoe, then bang the shoe (while still holding the neck of the bottle) against a hard surface. You want to whack it firmly but not so hard that you blow a hole through the wall. Once enough of the cork has emerged from the neck of the bottle, use your hand to pull it out.
4. Use two corkscrews at the same time
Alleviate some of the pressure caused by a single corkscrew, and try using two at the same time. Point the corkscrews at an angle moving toward each other, and screw them in until their points meet. Then gently pull both screws to try to dislodge the cork.
5. Knot and thread
Don’t have an opener at all? at the end of a piece of strong string or slender rope. Use a tool, like a small screwdriver, to work the knot down around the cork (between the cork and the glass) and into the bottle. Once the knot is below the cork, simply pull firmly on the rope, and the knot will lift the cork out of the bottle.