How can I remove the cork from a wine bottle, without it falling into the wine, when I don't have a corkscrew?

I'm not talking about flanged corks, or corks that partially protrude from the bottle already, but about normal corks that are placed like this:


Image source.

I tried to pull the cork out with my fingers but I couldn't grip it because the cork was flush against the opening of the bottle. What else can I do?

  • If you really need to get to the contents and no tools at hand you can always break the neck off, but then be careful with small glass pieces
    – Mikhail V
    May 15, 2016 at 12:34

5 Answers 5


Shoe Method

One way to loosen the corkscrew is to remove your shoe, place the bottom of the bottle in the foot hole (to protect the glass), and then bang the shoe against a stone wall repeatedly until the cork eases out of the bottle. This video provides a good demonstration. Just be sure to remove the capsule before trying.

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This woman adapted this method using a book instead of a shoe.

House Key Method

You can also remove the cork with a house or car key. Select one of your house keys and insert it into the cork at a 45-degree angle. Keep pushing the key until most of it is inserted into the cork. Then twist the cork around a couple times and pull up as you do, gradually coaxing the cork out of the bottle.

This video might be helpful.

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Paper Clip Method

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  • 2
    The paperclip method is awesome! I'll be sure to try this! Dec 11, 2014 at 14:41
  • 2
    The shoe method totally wouldn't make you look like an idiot. lol, great ideas.
    – J. Musser
    Dec 11, 2014 at 18:11
  • I already use successfully the shoe method, which also works with a wallet (or as specified, a book, but at least a shoe or a wallet is probably always at hand, while a book...). P.S : doesn't work with a kindle...
    – Laurent S.
    Jun 24, 2015 at 13:18

The most accessible solution given the items you're likely to have quick access to involve pushing the cork into the bottle using the blunt end of a knife or spoon etc.

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Carefully screwing a screw into the cork will give you something you can grip to pull out the cork. Pliers will be useful.

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There are more solutions here.

  • How do you know that you will be able to push it in all the way if you try pushing it in? It's hard enough to pull the cork out sometimes; when pushing it in, the contents of the bottle and the pressure would be working against you. Dec 11, 2014 at 13:00
  • 2
    How does pushing the cork in help? I think I'm missing something here.
    – Nick Udell
    Dec 11, 2014 at 15:42
  • 1
    If the cork is inside the bottle, the liquid can get out. Dec 11, 2014 at 15:51
  • 1
    There is some air in the neck of the bottle, that air can be compressed. This does increase the pressure inside the bottle, but not so much that it's impossible to get the cork all the way in. Dec 11, 2014 at 16:22
  • 1
    Yeah, I've seen people burst bottles be trying to force the cork in. It's harder than you'd think.
    – J. Musser
    Dec 11, 2014 at 18:24

Push it in with your index finger (yeah, press hard!). You need to keep your little finger in the bottle neck to pour the first glass to stop the cork bunging up the hole.


Another alternative would be to use a syringe :

  1. Pull the plunger to the max
  2. Put the needle in the cork and push until the end of the needle is in beetween the liquid and the cork
  3. Push on the plunger

The air coming from the syringe wwill push the cork from below. Now if you don't have a corkscrew chances are big you don't have a syringe neither but hey, who knows ?


I can personally attest to the key method working. However, it does work much better if you use two keys. You insert each key at the angle shown in James Webster's diagram, but you turn the keys 90deg from the position shown prior to inserting them so that the second key is not prevented from going very far in by the first. Then simply twist the keys around inside of the neck of the bottle as you pull and it will make the removal quite a bit easier in terms of effort. You get a second advantage from this method besides just the obvious one of having the keys angled across from each other giving a better hold inside of the cork though. That advantage is that now the keys are at a MUCH better angle to hold on to while attempting to extricate the cork and is also quite conducive to mentioned rotation of the cork as you lift without hurting your fingers from the pressure on the thin edge of the key(s.)

Another method which is fairly effective is to take a thin flexible blade such as a boning knife (or really, any thin and flexible but strong strip of material, be it metal or plastic) and work it in between the cork and the bottle. You can then use the combination of the compression of the cork from the side with the small gap letting air in as you remove the cork to release the cork from its home inside of the neck of the bottle. This will work even better with two such strips, in fact, there is a type of coke remove that uses this very principle with two such strips of spring steel.

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