Open wine with knife


Reader Success Stories

  • Anonymous

Oct 15, 2017

    Anonymous Oct 15, 2017

    “First tried the screw method. Didn’t work, it just messed up the cork. Pushed a knife into the cork and wiggled it. Then thumped the blunt end of a fork into the cork and it fell through into the bottle, the wine got in my hair but I enjoyed it. Thanks!” …” more

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Lever Corkscrew

When using this type of corkscrew to open the wine bottle, there is possibly no way you could go wrong. Many view the lever corkscrew as being the best tool for beginners for being easy to use. At the same time, it retains the traditional feel one gets from using a hand-operated wine bottle opener. This is an efficient and dependable tool that doesn’t require much strength. You can also get lever corkscrews in table mounted versions.

How To Use:

  • Have the corkscrew lever placed in the up position.
  • Then place the corkscrew on top of your bottle.
  • To insert the worm, push down the lever.
  • Once the lever has gone down all the way, pull the lever handle back up so as to get the cork out of the wine bottle.

While this type of wine opener takes up lots of space, it’s easy to use. And it makes a bold stylish statement about you when it’s installed as a permanent home fixture.


Twist Pull Corkscrew

Though fairly inexpensive, the twist and pull corkscrew is very reliable. The most important component of this corkscrew is the worm. This corkscrew is designed with a circular rim that you will place over the bottle’s lip. This design centers the worm above the cork.

How To Use:

  • Twist the worm into the cork.
  • The corkscrew gets braced against the wine bottle.
  • As you continue twisting, the cork begins to emerge.

The twist & pull corkscrew is generally not easy to use and is recommended for special moments when you feel like showing off. If you use cheap models of the twist & pull corkscrew, you can very easily mess up a cork.

Absolute Worst Ways to Attempt to Open Wine

If the kitchen torch concept sounded wildly dangerous, know it's still considered safer than these following methods. Our experts adamantly reject this set of "hacks" for opening wine without a corkscrew:

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Never Open Wine with a Wire Hanger

The mildest unanimous "no" was for the wire hanger corkscrew, where you fashion one out of a clothes hanger. This lands in the "worst" category not for safety reasons, but for its ineffectualness. The problem here is leverage—"It'd be hard to get enough to open it cleanly," says Brickel. Contributing to that is its lack of strength. As Ortiz points out, it's not a strong enough material to hold its shape, nor sharp enough to cut into a cork, even though insertion may not be that hard.

Never Open Wine with a Knife

Then there's screwing into the cork with a key or serrated knife. "There's no way I would feel comfortable recommending this," says Brickel. "I value my fingers and yours too much to consider stabbing at a wine cork with a knife. Avoid, please and thank you!"

Safety aside, it also just isn't effective. "This typically doesn't work and it disintegrates the cork," says Selinger. Ortiz echoes that point, saying, "Even if you can get the knife or key in successfully without damaging your hand, it wouldn't have the right grip to get the cork out nicely; it'd shred it and no one likes cork bits floating in their wine."

Never Open Wine with a Shoe or by Hitting It Against the Wall

Finally, there is the bottle-smacking methods. All of them were equally upsetting to our panel. The most common one is to wrap the bottle in a towel and gently hit it against the wall. "Do not do this. It's stupid," Selinger says flatly. And although Ortiz generously concedes, "Have people done it successfully? Yes," but follows up by quickly saying "Does that make it a good idea or safe? No."

He has the same feeling about wrapping it in a towel, holding it upside down, then smacking it with the bottom of a shoe. "Smacking bottles is generally a good way to send vibrations through the glass that can cause shattering. Imagine holding a bottle upside-down while hitting it with enough force to pop a cork—it's likely to fly out of your hand and smash on the floor. And if the cork comes out while the bottle is upside-down, you will lose all your wine to gravity."

At that point, "Just drink a beer," Selinger advises drily.

How to Open a Waxed Wine Bottle

If you’ve got a wax-sealed wine bottle, you may be tempted to cut through the wax as if it were foil. You should follow that temptation. Because that is the correct thing to do.

There may be a pull-tab on the wax, too. If so, great. Pull that and you’ll be able to remove the wax easily. But if not, just cut the wax cleanly with your corkscrew’s knife around the bottle’s neck. Then you’ll be able to lift off the top of the wax like foil. Then it’s business as usual.

The Best Ways to Open Wine Without a Bottle Opener

With that PSA out of the way: Is there a safe and reliable way to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew? Our panel reluctantly concedes that there are two. They're far from ideal and our pros definitely don't encourage experimentation with these measures, but when desperate times call, these might be the answer:

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Push the Wine Cork In, Rather Than Taking It Out

Pushing the cork in with a blunt, narrow object like the handle of a wooden spoon is best of all the MacGyver-inspired options. "You can do this in a pinch," says Selinger. "It leaves debris behind, but it's not the worst option." And Ortiz confessed this being his go-to during his college years.

However, Brickel cautions one caveat: "I would avoid this method with old or poorly-stored wine, as a dried-out cork will ruin the whole experience." And when pouring, Ortiz says to "make sure the cork is bobbing sideways so it doesn't block the flow of wine."

Open Wine With a Bike Pump or Ball Pump

Another solution they consider acceptable (with reservations) is the bike or ball pump method. This involves stabbing the needle of the pump into the cork and slowly, carefully pushing air into the bottle until the cork eventually rises up. "This is actually incredibly clever!," says Brickel. "There are some very expensive wine openers out there that basically do this same thing; air pressure can be your friend."

Only caveat here is the obvious question: "Why would I have a bike pump and not a wine key?!" Selinger jokes.

RELATED: Here's How Much Alcohol Is in Every Type of Wine

How to Open a Bottle of Wine with Scissors

Another last resort you can use to open a bottle o

Another last resort you can use to open a bottle of wine if you don’t have any sharp knives or a screwdriver is with a pair of scissors. That’s right! A pair of scissors can work in a pinch to open a bottle of wine. We learned this trick from one of our friends who’s an elementary school teacher. Let’s go over how to do it.


  1. Look for a pair of scissors that are relatively sharp. They will also need to be thin enough to pierce a wine cork. If they’re too wide this method won’t work.
  2. Remove the foil off your bottle of wine using the scissors or simply by peeling it off.
  3. Now pierce the cork with the tip of one side of the scissors and push the blade about an inch into the cork. Be careful of the other side of the scissors! The other blade is also sharp and if you slip you could hurt yourself.
  4. Once the scissor blade is securely in the cork, begin twisting the bottle in a circular motion to get the cork loose.
  5. After the cork is loose and you’ve got momentum spinning the bottle, begin slowly pulling the cork up and out of the bottle.
  6. You should make a little progress each time you twist the bottle. Don’t rush this process! If you pull too hard the scissor blade will simply pull out of the cork and you’ll have to start over again. It’s also much harder to do if you’ve already pierced the cork once with the scissors. Have patience and do it right the first time!
  7. After several twists and pulls, the cork should be halfway out. At this point, you can either keep pulling with the scissors to get the cork completely out, or you can usually just grab the cork with your fingers and pull it out the rest of the way.
  8. After the cork is out you can pull it off the scissors and enjoy the bottle you opened!

How to Open a Wine Bottle Without a Corkscrew

You’re trying to open a wine bottle without a bottle opener, wine opener, or corkscrew. You’re not alone. It’s an oft-searched topic on the internet. And, the internet being the internet, there are lots of solutions out there. Here are the most fool-proof.

How to Open a Wine Bottle with a Lighter

This is our favorite way to open a wine bottle without a wine opener. But please be careful. It involves fire.

First, remove the foil or wax to expose the cork. Then use a lighter and apply the flame on the neck of the bottle, just beneath where the cork is. The idea is to heat the air beneath the cork. This causes the air to expand and push the cork upward.

Rotate the placement of the lighter around the bottle’s neck to make sure you’re heating all the air. In a minute or two, you’ll see the cork creeping upwards and out.

This is our preferred method because there’s no risk in breaking the cork and it's nothing something you learn about wine from a book.

How to Open a Wine Bottle with a Key

Another way to open a bottle of wine without a bottle opener is with a standard house key. This way is far less elegant than using a lighter. And it excels with synthetic corks versus wooden corks.

Grab a towel and a key. Point your key at a 45-degree angle and insert the tip into the cork. Just off one of the sides and pointing toward the center of the cork. The goal is to skewer the cork at an angle, crossing the center. Once the key is inserted, grab the towel and place it over the key so you can press the key down forcefully. Do so until the key’s teeth are almost entirely in the cork.

Then, key firmly in place, try to move it circularly while lifting a bit. Do this repeatedly until the cork begins moving slowly upward. Be sure not to lift the key too aggressively, or you’ll just pull it out of the cork. Or make the cork crumble into the wine. Tannins in wine is one thing, but cork in wine is another thing entirely.

How to Open a Wine Bottle with a Knife

Here’s how to open a bottle without a wine bottle opener in a very similar way to the key method above.

You’ll take a relatively sharp steak knife (a butter knife won’t work as well, and you should avoid a folding knife for safety reasons). The goal is to skewer the middle of the cork downward and at an angle. So insert the knife just off the edge of the cork, angled toward the center. Push it down about an inch. Then you’ll have a good enough grip on the cork to start pushing or pulling it circularly.

Eventually, the cork will loosen and come up a bit. It’s basically the key method but with a knife.

There are a few considerations to make based on more unique styles of wine, however.

How to Open a Wine Bottle with a Shoe

And finally, the masterpiece. The most epic and artful way to open a wine bottle without a wine key. With a shoe.

It’s a little known fact that every sommelier learns how to open up a wine bottle with a shoe during their certifications. Just in case.

That’s not true. Sorry.

Let’s just get into it. Place the wine bottle into the shoe, its base upright where your heel would usually rest. Find a hard surface, a brick wall ideally, and hit the bottom of the shoe’s heel on it repeatedly. After a few strikes, the cork should have moved up slightly. At that point you can wrestle it out with your hand.

And, trust us, there is nothing more charming than opening a bottle of wine with a shoe and pouring it directly into a nice wine decanter. Here’s a great resource about how to decant wine if you’re intrigued. You can also learn how to clean a decanter so your crystal can shine bright.

Parting Thoughts

Buying a bottle of wine then realizing you have no way to open it is one of the most frustrating things – especially if you’re on vacation. Lucky for you, you now know how to open a bottle of wine with a screwdriver, as well as several other ways you can safely open a bottle of wine without an opener. You can even open a bottle of wine with a spoon!

We hope you found this article informative and useful! If you have additional ways you’ve figured out how to open a bottle of wine without an opener or an easier way to open a bottle of wine with a screwdriver, let us know in the comments below.

Having several ways to open a bottle of wine in a pinch is never a bad thing! You might end up being the man or woman of the party

To living a full-bodied life,