You’re Screwed! – 9 Unusual Ways to Open a Wine Bottle Without a Corkscrew

It takes the average person less than ten seconds to open a wine bottle with a corkscrew.

But what if you find yourself stranded on a desert island (or worse, someone’s house who doesn’t drink) with a bottle of your favorite Burgundy? Is there hope? Can you open wine without a corkscrew, or needlessly suffer in silence (and sobriety)?

Fear not. Below are 9 unusual – but extremely effective – ways how to open wine without a corkscrew…

Top 9 Ways – How to Open Wine Without A Corkscrew

#1 – The Tree Method

Wrap a towel around the base of the bottle. Then firmly hit the base of the bottle against a tree, wall or any other flat, hard surface. Each hit pushes the wine against the cork, and eventually pushes the cork out.

#2 – Dropkick Burgundies

This method of opening wine without a real corkscrew may seem a little wild, but it can work as long as you don’t drop the wine bottle! Place the wine bottle upside down and hold it between your knees. Repeatedly strike the base with your shoe until the cork is roughly halfway out. Then remove the cork by hand. This method works with sparkling wines, too; just be sure to let it sit at least ten minutes before fully removing the cork, or be prepared to get a wine bath in the process!

“MacGyver Method” Using pliers to open without a corkscrew. – Image credit fanpop

#3 – The MacGyver Method

Got a toolbox? Great. Grab a pair of pliers and a screw. The screw should be a least 4 inches long and the greater the distance between screw threads, the better (provides more grip in the cork).

Step 1: Place the screw into the cork until it’s roughly half an inch sticking out. Be careful not to go too deep to where it goes all the way through the cork and taints the wine.

Step: Gently use the pliers to pull out the screw. Alternatively, use the back end of a hammer to pull the screw out. Voila you now have open wine without a corkscrew!

#4 – The Archimedes Effect

The ancient Greek philosopher Archimedes once boasted “Give me a place to stand and a lever long enough, and I will move the world.”

Our aspirations aren’t quite as ambitious. But the concept of fulcrums still applies. For this method, take a small paring knife or pocket knife (Swiss Army knives work too, but then, they usually have corkscrews. You don’t have a Swiss Army knife around, do you?).

Gently work the knife around the edge of the cork. Don’t push down too hard; you’re trying to slide the blade around the cork, not through it. Once the blade is past the cork, begin working the blade back and forth. This will loosen the cork, allowing you to pull it out by hand.

Mommie Dearest

Mommie Dearest – Coat hanger method how to open wine without a corkscrew – Image credit Daily Musto

#5 – The Mommie Dearest Method

If you’ve seen “Mommie Dearest” you’ll get the reference. If not, watch the movie. It’s worth it.

For this method of how to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew you’ll need a wire hanger. Bend the tip of the hanger back about 30 degrees so it looks like a fish hook. Then slide the wire down alongside the cork, and rotate it roughly 90 degrees so the hook sinks into the cork’s bottom. Then pull the wire up.  You can use pliers or by hand (but use a towel or gloves to protect yourself).

#6 – The Knot’s Landing Method

Remember the Dropkick Burgundy method? Well, if your shoes have laces, here’s another way to get a wine bottle open without a  bottle opener: tie a knot at the end of your lace and push it down the side of the cork. Then oh-so-gently pull the lace – and the cork – out. If the lace keeps popping out, tie a larger knot and try again.

Corn holders are a great way to open wine without a corkscrew

Corn holders are a great way to open wine without a corkscrew

#7 – The Cork on the Snob Method

You know those small handles you place into corn on the cob? They make great corkscrews, too. Place the corn cob holder into the cork and gently pull upward while twisting back and forth.





#8 – The Hammer Time Method

Hammer five nails into the cork. Pull them out with the hammer. Pretty fool proof way of how to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew, huh?

And now for a special bonus method:

#9 – The Napoleon Dynamite

Also known as le sabrage, this method lets you remove Champagne corks (or any other sparkling wine) with a sword. Seriously, how cool is that?

The custom began with Napoleon’s troops and is still considered an effective – not to mention entertaining- method for removing corks.

How to open wine with a knife / sword / sabre:

Step 1: Chill the wine overnight in the refrigerator. If you haven’t, try soaking the bottleneck in ice water beforehand.
Step 2:  Remove the foil and wire cage from atop the cork.
Step 3: Wipe down the bottle to remove all excess moisture.
Step 4:  Find the seams on the bottle. This is where the two bottle halves join together.
Step 5: Tilt the bottle to a 45 degree angle. Safely point it away from others (but you already knew that, didn’t you?).
Step 6: Place the blunt edge of the sword on base of the bottle. Slide the sword along the seam towards the cork in one fluid motion. If done correctly, the sword will “behead” the bottle, taking the bottle top and cork clean off. Plus, it makes you look really, really cool. If not, you will have a lot of wine and glass flying everywhere, so safety goggles would be prudent. Dare we suggest, leaving this one to the experts?

Video credit: How to Sabre Champagne:

If all else fails…

Then you may just have to breakdown and buy a proper corkscrew or get yourself a fancy box-o-wine.

Napa Valley: The Lowlife Guide to High Class Wines

Credit: Bob Jagendorf

I’m a lowlife.

I enjoy eating with my fingers… drinking cold beer in questionable establishments… and hanging out at the track with other lowlifes.

And you know what?

I’m OK with that.

But sometimes even lowlifes thirst for a taste of “the good life.” Where we could swirl aged Cabernet Franc in a crystal glass, pontificating on its finer, more delicate attributes.

Then sniff… swirl again… and sip.

Or something like that.

So if you and your buddies (or date/girlfriend/wife) ever get the urge the visit Napa Valley for a taste of the good life, let this be your guide.

But before we even think about discussing wines, let’s talk about…

3 Winery Discounts No One Tells You About

Let’s face it: wine tasting – especially in Napa – can get expensive quickly.

On average, you’ll pay $5 – $10 per person (and up to $50 for a tour/tasting). And you’ll probably visit 3 -5 wineries… which can add up to $100 for two people!

But fear not.

Here are three simple (but rarely used) tactics to drink for free:

Go with a local. It’s an unspoken rule in Napa that locals drink for free. Usually a winery will let their friend (i.e. you) drink for free, too. Just don’t go pretending you’re a local!

Free tasting passes. Sure, us lowlifes would call them “coupons”… but in Napa they’re called “complimentary tasting passes.” You can pick up several of these at the Napa Valley visitor center. Ask one of the staff if they have any suggestions, too.

Industry discounts. These are absolute GOLD in Napa. If you or your fellow lowlifes work in a bar/restaurant/winery be sure to take business cards with you. When you show up for a tasting, ask if they have any “industry discounts” (use this phrase exactly); chances are, everyone in your party drinks for free.

And if you call ahead, you can also schedule a free tour, too!

OK, that should save you at least $30 on tasting fees. Now let’s talk about…

Great Wineries For Tasting (No Snobbery Required)

There are lots of wineries to choose from.

And no matter which ones you choose, map them out beforehand so you don’t waste time.

Here’s something interesting: two main roads (Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail) run parallel along the wine routes. This makes it easy to drive up one, then turn around and head back on the other.

The following wineries are just off either road:

Silver Oak
If there was one winery in all of Napa for lowlifes, Silver Oak would take the title. While their wines usually sell for $120 – $250 in restaurants, you can taste their two wines for only $5.

And the setting?

Magnificent. A recently built porch provides excellent views of the surrounding vineyards.

Both wineries are run by the same owner (hence the names) and both are excellent. The wines (especially the Merlots) are full bodied and delicious. Paraduxx offers tasting in a restaurant style: you sit down and staff pours wines and answers questions along the way. Duckhorn is set inside a small cottage and has one of my personal favorite Merlots in Napa.

Sterling Vineyards
I’m going to come right and say this: Sterling’s wines are NOT the reason you should visit here.

Instead, you’re here for the scenery.

First off, take a gondola uphill to the winery. Once there you can walk around the perimeter, trying wines and enjoying spectacular views of Napa Valley from every angle.

Far Niente Tour
Remember all that money I saved you?

Here’s something worth blowing it on: a private tour of Far Niente. Not only do you enjoy a tour of the gournds – including the gardens and collection of muscle cars – you also get a private tasting with different cheeses. Awesome.

Seventy Five Wine Company
The name? It was founded in ’75.

The wines? Some of the best in Napa.

Best part? No one really knows about it.

Seventy Five winery uses the same grapes as Opus One (a grossly overpriced wine) for about a quarter of the price.

If that ain’t high-class for lowlifes, I don’t know what is!

Now that we’ve covered some truly excellent wineries, let’s talk about…

Sparkling Wine

Even lowlifes need help every now and then. So please, please… please do not call sparkling wine “Champagne.”


Because Champagne is sparkling made specifically in Champagne, France. Therefore, every where else in the world simply calls it “sparkling wine”.

Two wineries known for sparkling wine are Domaine Carneros and Domaine Chandon. Both are a good time, though Carneros has a better view. (Note: Carneros is way off the main route).

If you’re not picky and just want some bubbly, by all means visit Mumm.

So there you have it: the lowlife guide to high class wines.


Further Information on Napa:

Awesome maps (print and interactive) of Napa Valley
Search Napa valley wineries

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