No corkscrew? No problem. How to open a wine bottle with your shoe
Yes, you really can open a bottle of wine with nothing more than a wall, a shoe and a little technique.
Tue, Mar 25, 2014 at 06:58 PM
There's a video swirling around the Internet featuring a French guy from Mirabeau Wine opening a bottle of wine with his shoe. But does this incredible trick really work?
It turns out that the answer is yes, but it's not quite as easy as it looks. Thanks to some experimentation by investigators over at NPR, though, the keys to this trick have been officially revealed. With the right shoe and the correct technique, you may never need a corkscrew again. At the very least, it certainly makes for a great way to impress your wine friends.
While the Mirabeau Wine video makes the trick look simple, if you don't know what you're doing, you won't look so graceful attempting it, as NPR investigators display in the video below:
Despite these clumsy attempts, the good news is that the trick absolutely works. You'll just want to refine your technique to avoid looking like a schlub. First off, it helps to know exactly how the trick works.
It turns out that as you bang the bottle against the wall, the force gets transferred to the fluid, which in turn acts like a piston and pushes against the cork.
"It's actually quite simple," explained James Wallace, an engineer at the University of Maryland, who studies fluid dynamics. "When you hit the bottle against the shoe, the impact of the [shoe against the] wall provides a more or less constant force to the bottle, which is then transmitted to the liquid."
"When a liquid is confined, like the wine in the bottle, it can't flow. So the wine is going to act very much like a solid."
The only real purpose to using a shoe to perform the feat is to buffer the glass bottle from the hard wall, to prevent it from shattering. Not any old shoe will work, however. If the soles are too cushy, then the shock of the impact will be absorbed. Shoes with taller heels won't do either, perhaps understandably. High heels make for a small surface area for transferring the impact, but the angle of the impact matters too. For maximum force to transfer to the wine, the bottle needs to be perfectly perpendicular to the wall. Heels can tilt the bottle at less efficient angles.
The best way to refine your technique is to try it out with different shoes. It might also be a good idea to test it out with a cheap bottle of wine; you don't want to spill any of the good stuff. Just keep one other thing in mind: it won't work with plastic corks. The staff at NPR couldn't open any bottles that had plastic corks, no matter how much they pounded.
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