Here's How to Open a Wine Bottle Without a Corkscrew

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Red wine

Open Sesame

If you’ve got an unopened bottle of wine, a few impatient guests, and no corkscrew, you’re in the right place. We’ve got nine ways to open that bottle without one, so by the end of this piece, we’re confident you’ll be enjoying a nice tall glass of free-flowing vino. Our guide comes with just one proviso: Be careful. Although we've steered clear of more radical methods (such as using a blowtorch), some of these less-than-straightforward techniques could contaminate your wine — or worse, destroy the bottle. Proceed with caution and take your time.

Related: Recipes and Kitchen Hacks You Need for a Party

Close-up of kitchen utensils

Push the Cork Through

Tools: a highlighter, wooden spoon, lip balm, or other blunt object

Difficulty: easy

Video Tutorial

While this method is inelegant, it’s among the easiest techniques on our list. First, find a sturdy, blunt object that’s narrower than the cork. Once you’ve found your implement, place the bottle on a level surface and apply firm  downward pressure to the cork with your blunt object. Make sure to keep the bottle steady as you push in the cork. You may end up with some stray pieces of cork floating in your wine, but hey, that’s better than no wine at all.

Related: Recipes for Leftover Wine That Julia Child Would Love

air pump

Push it Out with an Air Pump

Tools: an air pump with inflation needle

Difficulty: easy

Video Tutorial

If you’ve got a bike pump with an inflation needle, you can puncture the cork and push air into the bottle. Provided there’s a seal, the air pressure should push the cork out of the bottle.

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Make the Front Door Memorable
Jason Finn/istockphoto

Ask to Borrow a Corkscrew

Tools: social skills

Difficulty: easy

As long as you haven’t been throwing back-to-back parties, your neighbors are likely to lend you a corkscrew for a few minutes. It beats having to MacGyver a paper clip into a wine opener.


Create Your Own Corkscrew

Tools: a screw, screwdriver, hammer, or wrench

Difficulty: medium

Video Tutorial

Take a long screw and insert it into the middle of the cork with a screwdriver. (Do not drill the screw completely into the cork.) Once it’s deep and snug, pull the screw up with the back of a hammer or wrench. Like a corkscrew, the screw should be embedded deep enough that you can use it as a sort of handle. You can also try this with a hammer and nail. Like the first technique, this method could contaminate your wine with a few pieces of cork … but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Shoes stored in the shoe box
Toru Kimura/istockphoto

Push the Cork Out With a Shoe

Tools: a shoe

Difficulty: medium

Video Tutorial

Find a solid wall and a shoe and hope your neighbors aren’t asleep. Place the bottle upright in the shoe, then whack the sole of the shoe against the wall, holding the bottle and shoe firmly in your hand. Repeat. The idea is that the shoe protects the bottle from breaking while the pressure you generate pushes the cork slowly out of the bottle.

Scissors on an yellow background. Colored baby scissors.
Aliaksandr Bahdanovich/istockphoto

Twist the Cork Out with Scissors (or a Knife)

Tools: a pair of scissors or a knife

Difficulty: medium

Video Tutorial

Find a pair of craft or children’s scissors, and open them all the way. Insert a blade deep into the center of the cork carefully, then gently twist and pull up. The scissors should act like a makeshift corkscrew. You can also try this with a serrated knife or keys, inserting the blade into the cork at a 45-degree angle. After your implement is firmly inserted, rotate it to twist the cork out.

metal hangers
Photography By Tonelson/istockphoto

Hook the Cork With a Coat Hanger

Tools: a coat hanger and pliers

Difficulty: medium

Video Tutorial

Find a wire coat hanger and straighten the hooked part with a pair of pliers. Once you have a straight piece of wire, you'll want to bend the last half inch into a smaller hook. Take this small wire hook and wedge it slowly between the cork and wine bottle. The hook should be parallel with the cork and bottle (and not poking anything). When the wire is below the cork and in the wine bottle, rotate the wire 90 degrees and hook the bottom of the cork. Pull up on the hanger slowly to open the bottle of wine.

Many scattered different colors paper clips red, green, blue, yellow, white and pink for office work or education lies on dark scratched concrete table. Space for text

Remove the Cork with Paper Clips

Tools: two paper clips and a pen, pencil, or similar object

Difficulty: hard

Similar to the coat hanger method, this technique uses two hooks to pull the cork out of the bottle. Start by straightening the middle part of a paper clip, forming a long piece of metal with two U-shape bends. The sides should be mirror images: two U-shaped hooks. Repeat this with the other paper clip. Next, insert one paper clip between the cork and bottle, keeping the hook parallel with the bottle. Once you've made it past the cork, turn the paper clip 90 degrees and hook the cork. Repeat with the other paper clip. Once you have two hooks, join the upper ends of the paper clips and place a pulling object underneath the upper hooks. Pull upward on the hooks to release the cork.

A ball of threads on a blue background. Thread cuttings. Contrast, difference.
Oksana Vainrub/istockphoto

Pull the Cork Out with a String

Tools: string and a screwdriver

Difficulty: hard

Ready to test your patience? After collecting the needed materials, pierce the middle of the cork with the screwdriver, making a hole that reaches the other side. Take around a foot of string, cut it, and make a small knot at the end. Then feed the string through the cork's opening with a screwdriver. Once the string makes it to the other side of the cork, pull up with the string. The knot should keep the string in place as you pull upward. Just be prepared for cork-filled cabernet.