Saturday, March 28, 2009

Martha & McGyver -- Tips for Winos #384

Picture this: Martha Stewart is doing last minute preparations for a huge dinner party. Everything is perfect-- the handmade cloth napkins have been embroidered with each guest's name; and neatly tucked into the laquered walnut shell napkin rings. The centerpiece of a mini replica of Alderson Federal Prison, is perfectly placed on the dinner table, between the array of hand thrown ceramic plates, fresh from the kiln. The only thing left to do is open the bottle of 1984 Marsonnay that she had been saving for just the right occasion.

Can you imagine the look of horror that comes over her face when she realizes that her wine opener/corkscrew is missing?!?!

Fortunately for her, one of the dinner guests is Richard Dean Anderson-- the extremely resourceful secret agent, MacGyver, from late eighties prime time television. And he happens to be the first guest to arrive! MacGyver makes a quick assessment of the situation and immediately whips a plain old ordinary screw from his pocket. He screws the screw into the cork of the seemingly unopenable bottle, and instructs Martha to fetch her tool box, which is conveniently located underneath the kitchen sink. He uses another ordinary tool-- the handy hammer, claw side hooked on the screw, to ease the cork out of the bottle. Voila! The party is saved!

While the above story may be fictional, the act of using a screw and hammer to open a bottle of wine, should a corkscrew not be handy, has been employed as a successful technique on more than one occasion in my lifetime.

This story was inspired by actual events involving a couple of underage thieves who came to my bar recently and asked if we could open their bottle of wine, as they did not have a corkscrew. My first instinct was to help a neighbor in need, so I took the bottle from the young-looking lad, (who seriously needed to pull up his pants). But then the skeptical, responsible bartender in me took over, and for fear this may be a trick by the ever-lurking liquor control board, I insisted that they show me their IDs before proceeding. Since neither boy was able to provide proof of legal age (or any proof of identity at all), I refused to give them back the bottle of wine. And it was concluded that most likely the bottle of wine had been stolen.
Relaying this little tale to friends has sparked many other resourceful, McGyver-esque ideas for opening a bottle of wine, sans corkscrew. In addition to the "Screw & Hammer" technique, here are a couple of others that were presented:

--Pushing the Cork:
This involves pushing the cork down, inside the bottle. Not ideal, but a good solution in a pinch.
--Tapping the Bottle:
This one is a little trickier, potentially more dangerous, and requires some patience-- Lightly tap the bottom of the bottle against a tree just right, and the cork will eventually work its way out of the bottle through some magical law of physics.

I have not tried either of these other 2 methods, but would love to hear any success stories you might have with these or any other techniques.

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