Sunday, November 20, 2011

Nov 20: All you need is a screw and....

I spent the day with my good friend Colorado yesterday while her husband did some much-needed repairs on my van. It was definitely worth driving 70 miles for both the company and the new engine mounts, transmission fluid and oil change, and even a new windshield wiper.

We were enjoying a lovely day--lunch, shopping, gossiping, drinking  homemade lattes--until we decided to start dinner. The first thing we needed to do was open a bottle of wine. I'm sure I don't have to even say that--first the wine, then the cooking. Colorado set the wine on the counter along with two coffee cups, opened a drawer and said, "I don't think we have a corkscrew."

The day screeched to a halt. How can any rational human being not have a corkscrew? We searched the kitchen, the dining room cabinets, even the office for a corkscrew. I looked through my purse. She found her multi-tool, but it was multi-worthless. Not one fucking corkscrew in the house.

Me: Do you know your neighbors? I'll go knock on doors until I find one.
Colorado: Don't know them. They're all really old.
Me: Even Jesus drank wine and think how old he'd be! (I'm not sure I really said that. I might have just thought of it now. But if I didn't, I should have.)
Colorado: We can't ask the neighbors.
Me: We can push the cork down into the bottle. I seem to remember something about hammering a nail into it first though.
Colorado: Probably to release the air pressure.
Me: Yeah. Or maybe I tried opening a bottle with a hammer and nail once and just ended up pushing the cork into the bottle because the cork broke.
Colorado: Not helping.
Me: Let's google it. Surely somebody else has run into this serious dilemma.

We googled. The first likely idea we found was a video of a guy using a wooden spoon handle to push the cork in. He wrapped a towel around the bottle, gave a little push on the cork with the end of the spoon, and the cork splashed in with very little spillage.

Colorado: Let's try that!
Me: Hellz yeah. He didn't even need a hammer and nail, and he made it look really easy. (We head into the kitchen. Colorado grabs a towel and looks around....)
Colorado: Fuck. I don't have a wooden spoon.
Me: Seriously? First a corkscrew and now this? Who doesn't have a wooden spoon? What do you use when hubby's been naughty. Surely not this wire whisk. (Again, I might not have really said that last part, but I should have.)
Colorado: All of these utensils have fat handles. They won't work.
Me: (Searching for anything that looks like a wooden spoon handle....) Here's a Sharpie! It's about the same size.

We examined the bottle. The cork was a long one and there was only about 1/4" gap between it and the wine.

Colorado: That bottle is really full.
Me: (I put the bottle into the sink, wrap the towel around the top .... decide, fuck it, the bottle's in the sink, and I need to see what I'm doing. I push.GRUUUUNNNNT. (I make that sound. Nothing happens.) It's not working. There's no place to push it.
Colorado: Push harder.
Me: (I push harder. The Sharpie makes a dent in the cork, but the cork doesn't budge.) Fuck that. Let's google again.

We headed back into the office and opened an article on five ways to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew. The first video showed a guy putting the bottom of the bottle into a shoe, then hitting the shoe against a wall until the cork popped out. Less wine spilled than you might imagine when the cork shot out. And yet it was still too much.  At the end of the video, they let us in on the secret. Almost five minutes had elapsed.

Me: That's going to take too long. I want to drink today. Find another one.

The third time we hit gold. We found the process I'm going to describe to you complete with photos, just in case you're ever stranded in the wilds of a major US city with a lovely bottle of wine to drink and no fucking corkscrew at a friend's house and she doesn't have a corkscrew.

1. Collect your tools. You'll need a screw don't we all?! at least long enough to go most of the way through the length of the cork, a screwdriver, and a claw hammer. (I knew we'd need a hammer. Didn't I say we'd need a hammer? Can't touch this!)
2. Pull the protective foil cover off the top of the bottle.
3. Using the screwdriver, screw the screw into the cork, leaving about 1/2 inch sticking up. (Did I really just write screw the screw? What a cool phrase! Screw the screw. Obviously I don't screw often enough if I'm so easily amused.)

Screw the screw. Hee.

4a. Using the claw end of the hammer, pry the cork out of the bottle.

It's hammer time.
4b.This last step, I will admit was a little tricky. The hammer doesn't pry the cork straight up. Because our cork was so long, part of it came up out of the bottle neck, but then the the hammer no longer had the lip of the bottle to torque against so it pulled the screw sideways. We had to improvise.

Colorado: Why don't I hold it and you pull straight up on the hammer.
Me: I thought of that, but I'm afraid the cork will come out suddenly, and I'll hit myself in the forehead with the hammer. In fact, I'm certain that's what I'd do. I don't want to bleed into the wine.
Colorado: Do you want to hold it while I pull? 
Me: Suuuuurrre.....Just make sure you don't hit me in the head. If somebody gets hit in the head with a hammer, I'm know it will be me.
Colorado: Here, just hold the bottle on the floor. I won't hit your head.

I got down on the floor and held my head as far from the action as I could. Colorado got a good grip on the hammer head and pulled straight up. The cork popped out softly. (What? You were hoping that whole thing was leading up to a trip to the emergency room? For shame!)

Did you get your cookie, bottle of wine?

And that is how you open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew. This lesson won't help you if you don't have a screw, screwdriver and hammer, but you can always put the bottle of wine in a shoe and beat it against something like a wall or a tree run to the nearest store and buy a corkscrew. I know I'm going to carry one in my purse from now on. Much lighter than a hammer.


  1. Yes. It's true. I am entirely irrational because I lack a corkscrew.

    Next time you are here, I'll have 23 to choose from. :)

    So glad you were here!! <3


  2. Rationality is highly overrated. However, a corkscrew is essential.

    Fun screwin' with you. <3

  3. Colorado, whoever you are, bless you. I am thanking all the gods you didn't have a corkscrew so Reticula got to write this.

  4. (Why does the comment section of your blog hate me? Trying again.)

    Are you SERIOUSLY telling me that people who own a fancy ass, expensive espresso machine like I see in one picture, lack a simple corkscrew? WHAT is this world coming to, that people's priorities should be so skewed?

  5. Don't encourage her, Ria. Next time she might not have any wine!

  6. I know, Becky, right? In Colorado's defense, her husband doesn't drink alcohol, and she usually only drinks with me. She can be forgiven. We had fun screwing the wine bottle. ;-)

  7. You should have taken the bottle over to the garage. I'm sure Mr. Colorado had something pneumatic he could have used...

    Even that sounds dirty.

  8. I was going to say something about a drill, but....yep.