Wine Shoe Hack – Does it Work?

Wine bottle shoe

Wine Shoe Hack – Does it Work?

My teen asked if we could have wine with our pork chops tonight—red, of course.

I said yes, if he could open the wine bottle with his shoe.

Why?  A lesson in self-sufficiency:  Let’s just say that my teen was stranded in the desert, dying of thirst, and just as the end was near, he stumbled over a bottle of red wine. He reaches down and picks up the wine and realizes that he doesn’t have any way to pop the cork. I’ve always told him never, ever, open anything with your teeth. However, if he knew how to open the wine with his shoe, the problem would be solved. I am sure that some other wanderer would show up to share the wine (it happens all the time in bible stories) and all would not be lost. Moms worry about these things in the middle of the night.

Here is how this hack is supposed to work. You might notice that I’m using the words supposed to. By the way, Beth Ann sent me this video. She likes to torture me.


Our first effort:

If at first you do not succeed…

Why we failed and what you should do differently when you try this hack:

James Wallace, an engineer at the University of Maryland, who studies fluid dynamics explains:

“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.”

As it turns out, wine is actually a rather good transmitter of force, kind of like a piston.

“The force moves very rapidly down the liquid, just as it would in a solid,” Wallace says. “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.” And those wine molecules are going to transfer that force all way to the cork, making it pop out.

But you can’t just grab any boot, sneaker or loafer to open the bottle (hindsight is so 20/20) 

Shoes with soles that are too cushioned, like running shoes, don’t work at all, Wallace says: “A running shoe is made with some kind of compressible material that can deform. So the force of the wall is being absorbed by the sole. Some of the force moves out to the side. The force is not very concentrated.”

Cole’s second shoe, probably did not work because the angle of the sole was all wrong.  “The maximum force to transfer to the wine, the bottle needs to be perfectly perpendicular to the wall. If the bottle tilts at all, then some of the force from the wall doesn’t get transmitted to the bottle, Wallace says.”

In fact, Wallace says you probably don’t need a shoe at all to get that bottle open.

“I’d imagine it would work even better if you just hit the bottle against the wall directly,” he says. “The bottle is rigid, and the wall is rigid. So there would be very little compression of either material. The energy of the strike would be intensely transmitted into both surfaces.”

Of course, with that strategy, you run the risk of breaking the bottle, Wallace says. “The problem is that, without the shoe, you don’t know how hard to hit the wall. The sole helps to absorb some of the energy, so you can intuitively calibrate how hard to hit it.”

So, if Cole is stranded in the desert wearing the proper shoes, stumbles over a bottle of wine, and can find a hard solid surface this hack will work. I think, I’m just going to tell him to never leave home without a corkscrew.

Odd Loves Company,

10 thoughts on “Wine Shoe Hack – Does it Work?

  1. I was thinking the same thing as Liz. Kid handles a corkscrew real well. You gave away a tool that fits in your wallet that should be able to handle opening a bottle of anything in a pinch. Interesting that this might work tho!

  2. Something tells me that wine wouldn’t be the best source of refreshment if one is stranded in a desert. But I admire your and Cole’s determination to try this thing. Yes, pack a corkscrew!

    • True but hot beer and water is not as good as warm red wine. The hack works but it takes some practice. Kid is always looking for the easy way! 😀

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