Cheers! How to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew

Paula Cocozza
Photograph: ktsimage/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Coleen Rooney has been photographed on a boat, trying to open a £6 bottle of wine with her mouth, according to the Sun. The paparazzo apparently did not say whether she succeeded, but anyone can get caught out without a corkscrew. So how can you open a bottle without one?

If the wine is champagne, says the wine writer Nina Caplan, you could have a go at the fine art of sabrage. Run a sabre – or more likely a sturdy kitchen knife – along the bottle seam to the neck: the pressure from the sparkling wine, combined with the impact from the sabre or knife, should break the bottle’s neck from its body.

Of course, you don’t need a corkscrew to open champagne – sabrage is just showing off. “I saw it done once. It was great, but the wine went everywhere,” Caplan says. “But there are many ways to open a bottle without a corkscrew.”

A blunt instrument can do the job. Kate Hawkings, the author of Aperitif, has succeeded with a chopstick. Hold the top of the bottle firmly in one hand. “Then push the cork into the bottle with the square end of the chopstick. Hold the cork inside the bottle with the chopstick when you pour, to stop it bobbing into the neck.”

Another good substitute for a corkscrew is a shoe. Hawkings refers me to a 2014 YouTube tutorial by Stephen Cronk from Mirabeau Wine in Provence, subtitled: “If the shoe fits ... use it to open your wine bottle.” Remove the foil from the bottle, put the bottom in a shoe – one with a sturdy sole works better than a trainer – and bang it against a wall.

“I actually tried this, despite having a corkscrew on me, just to see if it works,” Hawkings says. “And it does.” If there’s no wall, hold the bottle between your legs and bang the bottom with a shoe; the cork eases out before any wine is spilt. If you have no shoe, choose a screwcap bottle.