My Wine Cork Broke. Now What?

We asked an expert for a simple fix.

Published June 23, 2023.

If youre a wine drinker, you’re probably familiar with the seemingly fatal mistake of breaking the wine cork before you finished removing it from the bottle.

This problem usually occurs when you attempt to pull the cork out at an angle and with too much pressure. It can also happen when a bottle of wine is stored improperly and the cork degrades, making it more susceptible to breaking. 

While good electric wine openers can help eliminate this problem, its an issue that can be remedied with a twist or waiters corkscrew. The good news is that its fixable, so you can be back on track to enjoying a glass of wine.

We asked Sipha Lam, owner of Wilder Wines in Burlington, Vermont, for some advice. 

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How Do You Remove a Broken Cork?

Lam suggests using a traditional corkscrew (either a twist or waiters corkscrew) and piercing the broken cork again but with much gentler pressure. Be sure to enter through the center with ease and carefully twist. Then, slowly pull it out and upward until the cork is entirely removed; dont pull it at an angle.

How Do You Remove a Cork that Fell into the Bottle?

Sometimes, even with the softest touch, the cork still falls through. Lam recommends a tool called a cork retriever—essentially a metal claw that reaches into the bottle to grab the cork. If you dont have that, your best bet is to decant the wine. Decanting means steadily pouring wine into a glass or plastic vessel to separate the sediment from the liquid and aerate the wine. 


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In the case of a broken wine cork, you can add an extra step. First, place a cheesecloth or coffee filter over the mouth of a decanter. Next, slowly pour the wine over the cloth or filter until the bottle is empty. The filter will catch the cork and any errant cork pieces that may have escaped.

How Can You Prevent a Broken Wine Cork?

But how do you avoid this problem in the first place? Take your time! Always treat the cork gently and dont rush, advises Lam. As mentioned above, enter straight into the cork, and once its pierced, slowly remove it.

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