The humble cork is perhaps one of the most endearing feature of the wine bottle. While many bottles come with screwcaps in the modern age, Italian wines that hope to emit a classier image tend to stick with corks.
There are certain benefits to cork as well. It’s a completely natural material, which means that it’s the closure of choice for organic wines. Plus, it has a flexibility to it that screwcaps don’t have.
On top of that, cork is completely biodegradable and recyclable. As a result, cork closures don’t cause anywhere near as much environmental damage as screwcaps and synthetic closures. Couple that with how growing cork promotes diversity in natural areas and you have plenty of reasons for why cork is a great closure choice.
But none of these may matter much to you if you end up in the nightmare situation of wanting to uncork an amazing bottle of Italian wine, but you don’t have a corkscrew.
Unfortunately, this lack of convenience is one of the major downfalls of corks, and could be the reason why you’re not sat drinking a glass of wine with this article right now.
A solution that doesn’t require a corkscrew would be perfect for you right about now.
Thankfully, that’s exactly what the team at Xtrawine are going to provide. In fact, we’re going to offer five techniques that you can use to uncork a bottle of wine without a corkscrew.
Technique #1 – Break Out the Tools
If you have a tool box to hand, then you can create a makeshift corkscrew out of a variety of tools. You’ll need a screw that’s long enough to bed into the cork without being so long that it breaks through. You also need a screwdriver and a hammer.
Use the screwdriver to insert the screw into the cork. Be careful not to screw in too far, else you may break some of the cork off into the wine. However, the screw also needs to be deep enough for the next step.
With the screw inserted, wrap the claw of the hammer around the screw and pull. Consistent pressure should see the cork come out, though it will take a little effort.
Technique #2 – Use Your Hands
This isn’t a technique that you can use for every type of Italian wine. In fact, using your hands to unscrew the cork of a still wine generally doesn’t work.
However, things change a little if you have a sparkling wine. The pressure inside the bottle will help you to release the cork.
Use consistent and gentle pressure to unscrew the cork by hand. You may want to use a towel to get a better grip. Don’t pull too hard though, else the cork will pop out too quickly and could cause some damage.
The consistent pressure should release the cork with a pop. Again, this only really works with sparkling wines. You’ll have to use one of the other methods on this list for still wines.
Technique #3 – Push It In
This is only a technique that you should use when you’re opening a bottle of wine that you’re not worried about affecting the quality of. Furthermore, you should avoid this method if it’s an older bottle, as the cork may break under the pressure.
Simply take a wooden spoon and hold it so that the handle points outwards. Rest the handle on top of the cork and apply pressure to push the cork inwards.
This method has plenty of disadvantages though. The cork enters the wine, which immediately changes its complexion. Plus, you can’t get the cork back out of the bottle. This means you’ll need to drink the wine during the course of the evening if it’s to maintain any of its quality.
Technique #4 – Wrap and Smack
This is a bit more of a brute force technique. It still requires care on your part, as going too hard could result in the bottle shattering. Not only do you lose the wine, but there’s also a chance that you cause yourself an injury.
Wrap the bottle in a thick towel – or two if you’re a little more cautious – and hold it firmly.
Now, hit the base of the bottle against a wall. The key here is that you should not use your full strength. Instead, you’re using a lot of small taps to gradually work the cork out of the bottle.
With a little time and effort, the cork will eventually come free. Of course, this method comes with its risks, so it’s a last resort for the truly desperate.
Technique #5 – The Bike Pump Method
If you’re a cyclist or sportsperson, you may have a bicycle or football pump lying around the house.
If that’s the case, you’re in luck. You can use the pump to eject the cork from the bottle.
To do this, the pump needs to have a needle attached that you can plunge into the cork. It also needs to be long enough to go all of the way through the cork, so that the end of the needle actually reaches the air below the cork.
After that, you just slowly pump air into the bottle. Each pump should push the cork upwards slightly, until it eventually comes out of the bottle. Of course, you’re also pumping air into the wine, which could change its complexion.
The Final Word
There’s no getting around the fact that none of these methods are as effective as using a corkscrew.
Some require you to get rather physical with your bottle of wine, and most could lead to you changing the complexion of the wine, either through shaking, pushing the cork into the wine, or pumping air into it.
As a result, these aren’t recommended as the methods that you should always use to open a bottle of Italian wine. Instead, they’re good in a pinch if you need to open a bottle and don’t have a corkscrew handy. Just take care when using them and you should be fine.