Do You Know How to Open a Wine Bottle?

Do You Know How to Open a Wine Bottle?

Learning how to open a wine bottle can be easy, or you can make it harder than it needs to be, depending on how you try to do it. With the right tools, like a corkscrew, it’s reasonably straightforward. But how do you even open a wine bottle without a corkscrew? 

Don’t knock the top of the bottle against anything in an attempt to open it — you’re likely to break it off and get glass splinters everywhere, including in your wine. We list the various ways to open a wine bottle, whether you have a corkscrew or not, so you’re not in trouble the next time you need to open one.

How to Open a Bottle Without a Bottle Opener

You just bought a bottle of wine, but for some reason, you don’t have your corkscrew available, or you don’t have one at all. How do you open a wine bottle without a bottle opener? 

You’re in luck. You can do it without either of those tools.

how to open a wine bottle

Push the Cork into the Bottle

There’s nothing wrong with pushing the cork into the bottle. I’ve had to do this before. The only thing you have to worry about is whether the cork gets in the way while you pour. 

To push the cork into the bottle, take a blunt object, like a wooden spoon, and use the handle to push the cork down into the bottle. You might need to gently hit the spoon to loosen the cork, and it might take a while. But this is one of the easiest ways to open a wine bottle without an opener.

Unfortunately, you’ll never get the cork out of the bottle without breaking it, so be sure this isn’t a cork you plan to save. 

The Screw, Screwdriver, Hammer Method

This takes some strength and patience, but it’s one of the safer methods for opening a wine bottle without a bottle opener. Plus, who hasn’t wanted to try using handyman tools to open a wine bottle?

Take a two-inch wood screw and use the screwdriver to twist it into the cork until there’s only an inch or so left visible. Then take your claw hammer, secure the claw around the screw and use it as a lever to pop the cork out.

You need to be careful because there’s a slight possibility you can break the glass on the neck of the bottle, getting splinters in your wine. Drinking anything with glass splinters in it is extremely dangerous. 

Pumping It Out

This only works if you have some type of manual tire pump, ideally a bike pump with a pin attachment. 

Push the pin through the center of the cork until it emerges into the wine bottle. Then simply pump air into the bottle to push the cork out.

Make sure you pump carefully, though. Although the air pressure will generally force the cork out before it shatters the bottle, there’s always that chance, and nobody likes cleaning up an entire bottle of wine, including its glass.

Use a Serrated Knife or Set of Keys to Screw It Out

Serrated knives and keys have teeth that will go through the cork reasonably easy. The main difference is that you don’t push these straight down into the cork as you do with every single other method — corkscrew or not.

Push your keys or knife into the cork at a 45-degree angle. Move it around in a circle carefully, working to twist it out. Eventually, the cork will come out far enough for you to just pull.

However, take extreme care when using this method because if you’re too rough or your circles are too big, you could just make the cork crumble into your wine. I don’t know about you, but in my experience, cork-wine is not especially tasty, and its texture is just terrible.

How to Open a Wine Bottle with Different Types of Openers

The most popular way to open a wine bottle is with a corkscrew, and they’re typically cheap and easy to find. There are so many to choose from though! How do you decide which one is best for you and your wine needs?

how to open a wine bottle

Electric Wine Opener

This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to open a wine bottle. While other types of corkscrews have been around for a while now, electric wine openers are fairly new. It is a cylindrical object you put on the top of the bottle and let it do its work.

These bottle openers work exceptionally well for people with limited mobility, making wine more accessible to them. 

How to Open a Wine Bottle with This

Most electric bottle openers come with a foil cutter like most other bottle openers. You don’t have to remove the foil using scissors or a regular knife.

Cut the foil off, and then place the opener over the bottle’s top. Once you have it in position, you push the “down” button and then guide its path into the cork. Once it’s sufficiently in the cork, press the “up” button. Now the cork is out!

Winged Corkscrew

The winged corkscrew has two levers on either side that are called wings. As you’re worming the corkscrew into the cork, the wings go up. When you’re ready, you push the wings back down, pulling the corkscrew and the cork with it. 

These are very popular because they make opening wine bottles a breeze, plus they’re easy to store because they’re on the small side. 

How to Open a Wine Bottle with This

Remove the foil, then place the corkscrew on the center of the bottle’s cork and press it in a little. Use the handle at the top to twist the screw down into the cork until it’s secure. 

Use both hands to press down on the levers, or wings, to lift the cork out. If it doesn’t come out completely, or at least far enough that you can just pull it the rest of the way, twist the corkscrew in some more and repeat the process until the cork is removed.

Here’s a fun little fact about winged corkscrews: The top doubles as a beer bottle opener, so you can open your wine and beer with it. You don’t need two separate tools to do this, which is great at parties. 

how to open a wine bottle

Two-Prong Cork Remover

These are sometimes known as the “butler’s thief” and have two flat prongs that you insert on either side of the cork rather than screwing something into the middle of the cork.

If you’re like us, you’ll see one of these and think, “Seriously? How on EARTH does that open a wine bottle?” Despite their design, they do open wine bottles, and the good news is that these are easy to use, just like other corkscrews.

You want to use one of these instead of any other type of opener if you’re opening a vintage bottle with a fragile cork because they don’t damage it, although they’ll work for any type of wine bottle cork. 

How to Open a Wine Bottle with This

Remove the foil, then carefully insert the longer prong into the top of the bottle between the cork and the bottle’s side and wiggle it a little bit to push it down farther. Then insert the shorter prong the same way, directly across from the longer prong.

Gently rock it back and forth, pushing the prongs down into the bottle as far as they’ll go, then gently twist and pull until the cork is out. 

Waiter’s Corkscrew

If you’ve ever ordered wine at a restaurant, you may have seen your server open a bottle of wine with a little tiny corkscrew. These “waiter’s corkscrews” or “wine keys” are the simplest and most popular type of bottle opener.

These are small enough that you can keep them pretty much anywhere you need them. They’re a little more difficult to use than an electric corkscrew or a winged corkscrew, but they work just as well. 

How to Open a Wine Bottle with This

Wine keys are built similarly to Swiss Army knives in that the corkscrew and foil cutter both fold into the handle. Unfold the foil cutter and cut the foil off the bottle. Unfold the corkscrew, place it slightly off-center on the cork and twist it in until only one curl remains visible.

Fold the lever down until its notch is pressing on the lip of the bottle, and hold it in place with your thumb. Use your other hand to push down gently but steadily on the handle until the cork pops loose. 

Final Thoughts

Now you know how to open a wine bottle with a corkscrew and how to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew. Whether you’ve pulled out your most expensive vintage for a special occasion or just want to have a glass of wine with your favorite frozen dinner, you can open the bottle with confidence that won’t add unnecessary irritation to your occasion.

Be sure to check out my list of the seven best wine openers under $50.

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