Everythingians are an intelligent people.

I was faced with the dilemma of opening a wine bottle that had been a gift to me (even though I know nothing of wine, except that I prefer white over red) without a corkscrew, so I thought I'd offer this quandary up to the E2 catbox to provide evidence of the problem solving prowess our people bear. I was amused, and enlightened, to say the least:

qousqous: suck. real hard.
Failed. Besides, I've always been advised that you weren't supposed to suck.

Kit Lo: Bite, twist, and scream about teeth falling off?
Thought about it, but, I've decided to keep my teeth, thank you. I have better things to bite. *evil grin*

narzos: take a pen knife, shove the cork down into bottle. Not reccomended if the wine's any good.
I'm saving the "push cork in" option for last. Will a serrated knife do? Hmmm..

leighton: Hmm. Got a long screw (ed: *snicker*) and a pair of pliers?
leighton: (and a screwdriver?)
Screwed in. Squeezing bottle between legs (An aside: hm, I wonder if I can use my vaginal muscles...I *have* been doing my Kegel exercises) PullingPullingPulling... *panting* ...Pulllllinnnnnggggggg...okay. This baby only budged a centimeter. Next!

qousqous: Just take a hammer and whap the neck of the bottle off
If I get desperate, I'll keep this in mind. My flatmate won't appreciate me breaking glass in the middle of the night, though.

qousqous: Oh, just take a sharp knife to cut the cork apart, and put a vacuum cleaner up to that to catch the cork bits as it falls apart
Well, if I had a vacuum cleaner, I sure as heck ain't feeding it my precious bottle of..1999 South Eastern Australia Hardy's Chardonnay..ummm..sounds good to me...I'm not sharing!

Infinite Burn: you buy wine that has a twist off cap. If you're someone who worries about wine quality then you should have a corkscrew. Otherwise you're the twist off type :)
I'll keep this in mind for next time, my dear boy. But Thanks for playing. Please come again.

anotherone: hold it over a bucket and hit the neck against something hard.
Oh, I'm getting to that point by now...grrrr...

leighton: Are you in a dorm? Find someone with a Swiss Army knife...they often have corkscrews.
Alas, I'm in a cozy quiet apartment in the Bronx..I *do* however live upstairs from a bar, but I don't wanna be the sole white girl wandering in with a bottle of wine in my PJs. Pass!

Infinite Burn: dee: attach nipple clamps to the cork and pull. I'm pretty sure it will work
If the cork was outside the bottle, this could be brilliant. But, it's not. So I can't. But now you've got me thinking about nipple clamps and...

ThePope: if you have a ball inflation needle, a good pump, and a fresh cork, pumping it out should work too. (WWMD: what would mcgyver do?)
Kudos to ThePope for his alternate advice and a good node: Tonging a wine bottle

Timothy Woods: "I've got it. Some French guy showed me the trick one drunknen evening. You put a knife over the cork and hammer it into the cork using the palm of your hand. Repeat this downward motion until the cork is fully down the bottle neck. By now the knife will be stuck in the cork. Start to pour the wine as normal and keep pushing the knife down, which is now stuck in the cork, as this allows the wine to pass through the bottle neck. Hey presto!!!"
Anyone try this? I don't drink wine anymore :)

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So I've run through the first ideas. I'm thirsty. This bottle is taunting me. I want it. I'm fiending. I search frantically around my room for the hammer, drag the duo into the kitchen sink and give it what obviously wasn't a hard enough whack. I whack it again, cringing at the noise it's making in my stainless steelsink.

Pout.
Pause.
Proceed.

I take the back end of the hammer and get excited because wiggling it back and forth while pulling on the screw is yielding some results. Then the cork breaks in half. I salivate.

Pout.
Pause.
Proceed.

Another fruitless whack. I peel off the rest of the label to see just how far down I'm supposed to be hitting and realize that only a third of the cork actually came off that first time. Doh! Back to step one. I put the screw into the rest of the cork, try pulling, but it only laughs at me as it pops out, crumbling some of the cork as well. I try to scrape the cork out, to no avail. I finally decide to push the cork in, sadly watching as it slides effortlessly down the neck of the bottle, into the fruity pool that my palate awaits.

Pour.
/me raises glass in a toast to Dai-un
Pause.
Proceed.

A technique that has not been mentioned (but it works only for Champagne, apparently) is to open it with a saber. A heavy knife will also work.
The bottle is held in the left hand, and the saber wielded with the right hand: the saber slides along the neck of the bottle and hits with its flat the place where the bottle seam joins the thicker (and last) part of the neck.
If done properly, the high pressure inside the bottle will crack cleanly the glass, and the top of bottle (cork and all) will fly away.

Notice that the bottle will be left with a very sharp edge. Notice also that if the bottle cracks in your hands and jugulates you, it is all your fault.

Believe it or not...

When I worked at a Steak & Ale restaurant, the manager there successfully opened a bottle of cheap white wine following these steps:
  1. Remove foil covering the cork.
  2. Fold a cloth napkin in half and half again, and wrap it around the base of the wine bottle.
  3. Find a firm, wooden, flat vertical surface, such as the jamb of an open doorway, or maybe a very solid wood wall.
  4. Stand facing the hard surface and hold the wine bottle above one shoulder with both hands. One hand should be on the neck of the bottle, the other hand near the base holding the napkin on.
  5. Pound the base of the bottle into the wood surface repeatedly, being sure the base of the bottle strikes the wood evenly (through the napkin's padding).
  6. The inertial sloshing of the wine in the bottle will slowly push the cork out, assuming the cork isn't old and rotting.
A few downsides: the wine will be very fizzy for about 2 hours afterwards, assuming you haven't spilled it all over the floor; the wood surface may be damaged; you will be perspiring heavily; the risk of injury to yourself and spectators is nonnegligible. Try this at your own risk!

Perhaps this technique is not so great for opening wine bottles, as it is for opening wallets: the restaurant manager made $5 in wagers off of each of 6 or 7 waiters.

My sophomore year in high school I discovered my grandparent's cottage as a wonderful place to hold an intimate date. This only worked in the winter since the summer fills the place up with a multitude of aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, parents, and one step-sister. However, winter deserts the place and leaves it a nice cozy love shack. The pullout couch pulls out directly along side the fireplace. The heat works slow and thus encourages closeness and the consumption of alcohol. All in all a wonderful ploy in my attempt at having relations.

Plenty often I would try and class up the evening with a bottle of red wine from the local vineyard, about 3 miles from the cottage. A shitty wine, indeed, but one with that local charm which keeps so many micro-breweries financially fruitful. I would have an older friend pick up a bottle for me. I'd grab some candles, a few blankets, and in anticipation drive to pick up my date. She'd usually be pleased by, if not a bit wary of, our destination. Teenagers love to be beneath roofs without adults. We'd arrive at the cottage and I would turn on the furnace, give the girl some blankets, and start a fire. Being no boy scout this typically took some time, and my date would sit shivering smoking a cigarette. (In retrospect I don't believe I have ever dated a non-smoker). The fire would start crackling a bit, struggling to begin, and I would go to retrieve the Holy Grail, the Crowning Jewel, The Bottle of Shitty Red Wine. She would smile big, I would smile big, I would look at the bottle of wine, still smiling, and I'd say "fuck." She'd say "what?" I'd say "I don't have a corkscrew." She'd look at me like the dumb ass I am, and then with eager eyes, she'd look at me with every girls' "you're a guy, figure something out" look.

Angry with myself for screwing up such a flawless presentation I would search and search the cottage for a corkscrew, knowing damn well that the only alcohol drank in this cottage required only fingers and an opposable thumb to open. The search for the corkscrew in vain, I would invariably end up with a screwdriver. It is a long, flat headed, wood handled, piece of history. It knows, in some Tom RobbinsSkinny Legs and All kind of way, soon it will be diving head long into a wet red room temperature vinegary substance, and it will like it. The girl sees me wild eyed with the screwdriver in one hand, the bottle in the other, and she must be thinking what a man I am. So hard core and tough, my eyes screaming “I’ll bite the top of this damn bottle off if I have to.” I push and I push and I shove and finally the cork shoots into the bottle.

I am no physics genius. I wasn’t one then, and I never will be. And so I was astounded when the cork finally broke into the bottle, spraying the cheap red wine directly into my face.

Still I had made it past the bottle's barrier, and with a cocky elegance I would pour some for her, into a white plastic Dixie cup.
A friend brought over some wine once. Not being a wine kinda guy (except for the occasional Mad Dog 20/20 ), I couldn't remember if I even had a corkscrew, much less find one. But in a rare flash of genius, I went to the computer room and unscrewed a storage hook from the wall that I'd hung about five miles of CAT5 on. It's the kind of hook found at a hardware store that you simply screw into a sturdy piece of wood and is strong enough to suspend a bicyle.
The screw end on these things is about an inch and a quarter long, and about 3/8 inch in diameter. I twisted it into the cork and pulled it right out.
We got drunk.

I live in a house full of crazy people. Because of this, things go missing all the time. Especially useful things, like corkscrews. As a result of this, and due to a predilection for delicious wines, I've had to do this several times. I bear no responsibility for any injuries incurred while following this advice.

Get a serrated steak knife and plunge it deep into the cork like you're stabbing your mother-in-law. It doesn't have to be all the way in, but a good couple inches. Then, grasping the wine bottle in one hand and the knife in the other, simultaneously turn the knife (and the cork with it) serrated-side forward and pull up, much like you would with an actual corkscrew. The cork should turn inside the neck of the bottle and start to pull out with the serrations of the knife providing grip inside the cork. If the knife pulls out of the cork, just stab it back into a different spot and try again. This has always worked for me with no problem and with minimal fuss.

Provided your cork is in fact made from real cork and not plastic, gather a swarm of termites and leave them in a closed, metal or plastic box (several smaller-than-termite holes prepunched) with the bottle of wine (cork exposed). Now wait patiently until you can no longer hear the creeping sound of scuttling bugs, open the box and enjoy!

So, here's a story. I bought myself a bottle of red wine. It's a mixture of 69% shiraz and 31% merlot, but I'm not positive about that - the bottle is now at the bottom of my trash can. How that happened:

Nowadays, I like to have a bit of wine to go with my dinner, and/or with my nightly cigarette. My host is a weird guy; he won't buy his own alcohol, but when he comes across a bottle that isn't his, he'll drink it to near completion. Without fail. As such, this evening I bought myself a smallish bottle of wine to make sure I wouldn't be too enraged if I come to find it nearly empty. So after selecting my wine glass and choosing the movie for the night (Rushmore), I whipped out the corkscrew, drilled it to the base, started to lever it out of the bottle, and krrish.... The mouth of the bottle got chipped off by retractable stand. And it didn't matter where I placed it, glass kept flaking off the bottle onto the floor. Ok, so then I tried drilling deeper until there was no metal visible and pulling it off, aaaaand... I broke the corkscrew. I also ended up leaving the curly bit in the cork, so now the cork is stainless steel re-inforced. By now I'm wanting that wine far much more than I originally did. OK, how am I going to get this damn thing open? I tried inching the cork out with a knife, uhuh. Tried cutting away the cork, but thanks to the spiral, fuckall there too.

Now there is this technique of getting a bottle open called tonging, and ThePope has an excellent writeup on it here. For a quick summary, with really old vintages, the cork may have decayed over time and become brittle, so if you try using a corkscrew, you might end up just ripping everything up and leaving bits of cork in your 19th century Chateau Lafite, and you wouldn't want that, noooo. So the way you get those bottles open is to first get something called a wine tong, which is basically a metal ring on a handle. Then you heat that over a stove. When it's hot enough, slide it over the neck of the bottle and hold it in place. After a good-enough while, remove the tong, and rub a cube of ice around the hot part of the bottle. The glass should crack, and you should be able to gently break off the neck, and pour your wine into a decanter. When the sediments have settled, the wine is ready serve.

Step 1: Buy a wine tong.

If I had a metal coathanger or even a paperclip I might have tried something adventurous, but nothing like that was around. I tried holding my cigar torch sideways as steady as I could and rotating the bottle. I applied ice. Nothing happened. I tried torching the hell out of just one spot, icing it - nothing. So then I thought and thought and thought.

The final solution. Perhaps I could smash the neck open? But I must find a way of avoid bits of glass falling into the bottle. So I found a facetowel and wrapped it around the end. I took it outside and started beating the bottle on the edge of the curb. Bottles are actually pretty tough, so I ended up having to need two hands. Finally a cold liquid began to spread underneath my fingers through the towel, and I knew I hit pay dirt. The towel caught most of the glass, and I shook it out and came back upstairs.

The bottle was solidly open, but I don't really want to drink it all now. However, I had a leftover 1 litre smartwater bottle handy. So to avoid glass shards, I let the wine bottle settle for a bit and decanted it into the plastic one. I disposed of it, and then put the new water/wine bottle in the fridge. I'm actually quite proud of myself, and I can't wait for it to cool. Unfortunately, there's no way to get around that other than just waiting. But I thought that by the time I finished writing up this story, the wine should be cool enough to drink, and I think by now it probably is. So I'm going to have my Black Swan Shiraz/Merlot right now. Cheers!

Epilogue:

There's one thing we're forgetting - what happened to the towel? It was white originally and now it's not, and it belongs to my host. What's to be done? Well, being the nerd I am, I went on the interwebs to find out the best course of action. There are many things one can do, but one helpful one was to place the stained area over a bowl. Then pour hot water all over it. The stain will vanish, and it mostly did. Now it's drying on a towel rack in the bathroom, and when it's dry, no one will notice. Although Palpz's method at the bottom of the red wine writeup is also cool too.

This technique requires no tools other than a vertical wooden surface and the wine bottle itself.

Step 1: Peel off the foil.

Step 2: Hold the wine bottle horizontally and strike the bottom
against the wooden vertical surface.
After a few strikes, the wine inside the bottle will force out the cork.

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