Whether you’re a fan of the two-armed bandit, the rabbit or the traditional sommelier’s wine key, it’s crucial to have a reliable tool for opening a bottle of wine – if you want to drink it, that is. But sometimes, despite our best laid plans, we find ourselves without one of these handy devices.
So what to do when the only thing standing between you and a delicious glass of wine is a pesky, 2-inch cork?
Here are a few creative ways to open that bottle and look like a hero in the process:
This is the technical term for opening a bottle with a saber. You need a well-chilled bottle of Champagne or other sparkling wine, a Champagne saber (yes, this is a thing) or chef’s knife, and a sense of adventure. While all you really need is fingers to open a bottle of sparkling wine, this way is much more dramatic. Locate the seam of the bottle, which runs lengthwise from top to bottom. Run the saber or the back of your chef’s knife (never use the sharp side) along the seam a few times to get the feel of it. When ready, hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle and run the knife along the seam, hitting the neck of the bottle with some force. The momentum from the saber combined with the pressure already in the bottle will cause the cork to shoot off, releasing the wine. Wipe off the top and pour away.
2. The Tree Method
This eco-friendly method requires only a bottle of wine, a kitchen towel and a sturdy tree. Remove the foil from the neck and, to protect your hands, wrap the kitchen towel around the bottle where you will be holding it. Then hit the bottom of the bottle against the tree trunk repeatedly with moderate force until the cork starts to emerge. In a matter of minutes it be out to the point where it can be removed by hand.
3. The Steak Knife Method
That serrated knife can come in handy when you find yourself without an opening tool during your steak dinner. Remove the foil from the neck and insert the tip of the serrated knife into the cork about an inch. Start turning the bottle until you get some momentum, then gradually pull up the cork. In a matter of minutes, it should come out of the bottle much as it would with a corkscrew.
4. The Bike Pump Method
If you’re ever biking through wine country and want to open a bottle for a picnic lunch, this should do the trick. Insert the tip of the pump hose (fitted with the kind of needle you use to inflate a football or basketball) into the cork as far as it will go. Start pumping until the air lifts the cork right out of the bottle. It’s a little technically challenging, but this method makes a dramatic presentation when the cork pops free.
5. The House Key Method
If you’re at home or at a friend’s house with a beautiful bottle of wine and no corkscrew in sight, this is the method for you. Simply select one of your house keys and insert it into the cork at a 45-degree angle. Keep pushing the key until most of it is inserted into the cork. Then, twist the cork around a few times and pull up as you do, gradually coaxing the cork out of the bottle.
Stephanie Miskew is a certified sommelier, wine educator and proprietor of The Wine Atelier, an online wine boutique. She also runs the The Glamorous Gourmet, a website dedicated to wine and entertaining.