The Recalcitrant Cork: Technical Notes
Opening a bottle of wine without a corkscrew is dead easy but still
stumps many people. I've seen people google for this before so I
figured I might as well provide an answer for those googlers. It
basically boils down to two steps:
- Push the cork in.
- Be damn careful in the process.
What You'll Need
You'll need to have a few tools around. Luckily, it's a lot more
likely you'll have these things than a corkscrew -- or you wouldn't be
here. The things you'll need are:
- A glass. Have it on standby.
- Something long and thin and clean. It's going to be going in your
wine so make sure it's clean enough to have in your wine. A felt tip
marker would be a bad idea. The non-business end of a ballpoint will
- Something long and thick and firm. If all you have is the pen,
this will work. It should be as wide as possible without being wider
than the cork or the neck of the wine bottle. Often, it will just be a
large, thick pen. It's what you will use to push the cork in so the
wider area upon which you can distribute the pressure, the
- Somewhere you can spill wine. This process is not always a clean
one. Do it in bathroom, in a hallway, or outside. Red wine
What You'll Do
- Step 1 - go somewhere safe
Go to that place where you can spill
wine. Trust me on this one. I've learned the hard way and scraping
wine off your walls with a light abrasive sponge sucks.
- Step 2 - point bottle away.
Grab the bottle as I do in the Figure 1. Trust me on this
one. I've learned the hard way here too and getting wine shot at a
high velocity into your eyes sucks (it was the same evening that I got
wine on the walls).
- Step 3 - push cork in
Push the cork in slowly with the long wider
object. I can't emphasize the speed bit enough. Sometimes its hard to
get it to budge but it will. Putting a huge amount of pressure means a
lot of pressure will be released. It may be unavoidable but don't be
- Step 4 - push cork back for first glass
The cork is in but you're still not off the hook. Because the
wine in the bottle is so far up, the cork will pop right back into the
neck and block it when you try to pour. What this means is that you
will get no wine, or a tiny trickle, until it reaches a level where
the cork can fall back into the bottle -- and then floodgates will
The way to get around this to to take that long thin object and
push it all the way into the bottle as you poor the first glass. You
can see that in Figure 2.
- Step 5 - enjoy
After the first glass, you can just ignore the fact that it has
a cork floating it in. Enjoy.