When travelling, we may want to obtain some wine, but I don't want to have to bring a corkscrew with me. What can I use instead?

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    Normally I have a Swiss army knife with me when I travel. In the baggage when I fly but still – Karlson Apr 8 '12 at 23:59
  • I missed this question while travelling. It's really not directly related to travel - if we accepted it, we'd have to take any 'what can I use instead of' - splints, chairs, stoves, knives, etc etc. Discussing first with other moderators as it's been left open a while, and they may have had a reason for doing so. – Mark Mayo May 5 '12 at 21:17

My preferred method, because it requires no special equipment:

  1. Wrap the bottom of the bottle in a towel, or place a phone book against a wall or tree.

  2. Hit the bottom of the bottle firmly and evenly against a reasonably flat, vertical surface (such as the wall, or a tree). The pressure of the wine against the cork will gradually nudge the cork out.

    As an alternative, you can hold the bottle upside-down between your knees and strike the bottom of the bottle with a shoe.

  3. Once the cork is partially out, remove it with your hands or pliers. Alternatively, you can continue hitting the bottle rhythmically until the entire cork comes out. If you are trying to open a carbonated beverage (e.g., champagne or lambic), let the bottle sit for 10-15 minutes before removing the cork.

Found the steps on WikiHow, complete with video, and several alternate methods.

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    Depending on how many wine snobs there are around you, you may get some funny looks for banging a wine bottle. But it isn't a bad idear. – Beaker Apr 10 '12 at 0:32
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    Definitely will outrage the purists, but check this shoe-as-cushion-against-hard-wall technique: youtube.com/watch?v=YAx2TXt1v_I – Kate Gregory Apr 10 '12 at 2:16

Simply push the cork down into the bottle and pour.

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    i can't believe this answer is so undervoted. This is wine purist approved, btw (as long as you clean the exposed part of the cork, so that dust/lacquer doesn't get into your wine). Even if you get cork bits in your wine, you can filter/decant it (again, wine purist approved). – JoséNunoFerreira Apr 11 '12 at 18:35

A small, but incredibly useful device is the CO2 cork remover. Basically it has a needle you stab through the cork, and then you press the trigger to pump CO2 into the bottle, forcing the cork out.

It weighs about the same as a corkscrew though, so your better bet may be:

Buy wine bottles with screw tops!

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    No offense, but in some places, such as Tuscany, one might call that blasphemy ;) – Beaker Apr 7 '12 at 11:18
  • Heh - I know, but it's the way of the future. – Rory Alsop Apr 7 '12 at 14:18
  • +1 for just buying wine with screw tops. I just got back from South Africa, and almost every bottle I encountered was screw top. There are wine traditionalists who probably abhor that, but it's definitely becoming more common. – Laura Apr 7 '12 at 22:18
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    Screw tops aren't a bad suggestion, but it's not always possible (if you want a specific bottle of wine), and doesn't really answer the question. :) – Flimzy Apr 9 '12 at 16:47
  • Would it have to go in checked luggage? – Andrew Grimm Apr 12 '12 at 5:24

It depends on how, um, elegant you want to be about opening the bottle.

When I was living in India, I took a trip to Paris, and I brought a couple bottles of wine back with me. I totally forgot that I didn't have a corkscrew with me, and I had no idea where I could go to find one.

What did I use? A regular table knife.

I chipped away at the cork until I'd scraped out about half of it, then used the blunt end of the knife to push the rest of the cork into the bottle.

It's not classy, and you might get some cork crumbs in your wine, but it works. :)

(Note: this method probably doesn't work on plastic corks - they need to be actual cork so you can break off chunks.)


Have you considered bringing a swiss army knife that has a corkscrew. I would highly recommend tossing one in your checked bags. If you don't check bags, then buy a cheap corkscrew in your destination. I have successfully used a paperclip, but it took forever. I drilled it into the sides of the cork to loosen it and then I pushed it all the way through the center, wiggling it to make the whole wider than the paperclip. Once that was done, I pulled it out, cut off half an inch of the paperclip and tied this to a piece of string. I pushed the small piece of paperclip with the string through the hole in the cork and pulled up on that hard. The cork came out, but it was a project. Corkscrew is easier.

  • These types of devices often aren't allowed in carry-on luggage. And it would be a shame to check a bag just so you can open a bottle of wine later. – Flimzy Apr 9 '12 at 16:48
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    I said that above... "If you don't check bags, then buy a cheap corkscrew in your destination." – Beaker Apr 10 '12 at 0:29

If you are in a big city, walk into a hotel that has a hotel bar (even better if it is your own hotel). Act like you are a guest at the hotel and kindly ask the bartender to open the bottle for you. It's nice to give them a tip, but that would likely be the price of a cheap corkscrew anyway.

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