Opening a Wine Bottle with a Hammer and…

Posted in: Creativity | (Français) le29 July 2011

When I was a student, I once invited some friends to my apartment for supper after spending countless hours on a crazy assignment. We had made a deal that I would prepare the food and they would bring the drinks. They arrived at my place with bottles of wine and beer. We started with the beer and kept the wine for supper. I was trying out a new recipe and the food wouldn’t be ready until late at night.


Once the food was on the table and we had all taken our seats, wine glasses in hand, I realized I couldn’t find the wine opener. I checked the whole apartment, but to no avail. We had five wine bottles on the table and no wine opener. At this point, nobody was hungry anymore; our only concern was figuring out a way to open these bottles.


It was too late to get one from the store, and none were nearby anyway. My neighbors wouldn’t help; we were already making too much noise. So we each took a bottle and tried some tricks.


Minutes later, we were all busy struggling with the bottles and the corks were still stuck deep inside. It was up to me to find a way to open these bottles; I was the host and they were my guests.


I cast a quick look around and noticed the picture frame on my wall leaning on its side. This immediately gave me an idea.  I had been trying to hang this picture properly a couple of days earlier. I had hammered a nail into the wall and removed it later with the claw. I had substituted a screw for the nail, but the picture frame was still hanging awkwardly.


The minute I saw this picture frame, I automatically made an association between the screw, the hammer I had used, and my wine bottle. I opened my drawer and pulled out a screwdriver and a long screw which I then screwed through the wine cork. I then simply use the hammer claw to pull the screw out along with the cork, like pulling a nail out of a wall. It was so easy I had the cork out of the bottle in less than a minute.


My friends found this idea very creative; however, I was more interested in the process that had led me to this creative solution.


Firstly, the problem revolved around opening the wine bottle.  If I had focused my attention on the wine bottle, without letting my thoughts wander around the room, I would have never found the solution. When you have a problem to solve, don’t be afraid to look outside the box, even at things that have nothing to do with the issue at hand.


Secondly, because I had recently used a hammer and a screw, my brain had already recorded the sequence of actions I used. I simply had to make an analogy between the nail being pulled out of the wall and the screw being pulled out of the cork. Any experience in your life is recorded in your subconscious and can help with creative problem solving. The key is to train your brain to make associations.


Thirdly, I know I’m not the only person who ever came up with this idea. The same idea can occur to different people under different circumstances. In my situation, it was because I had previously used a hammer and screw to hang a picture frame. My picture-framing experience was recorded and used analogically in solving the wine bottle problem. Of course you can still come up with a similar idea without necessarily having used a hammer and a screwdriver recently, but you will need to use your imagination while thinking analogically and making associations.


Fourthly, what triggered this creative idea was neither the screw, nor the hammer, but the picture on the wall. The moment I checked the picture frame, my brain automatically saw beyond this image. My brain went straight to the hammer and screw experience, made a quick analogical comparison and gave me a hint that something might work. A brain that has been trained to make analogical associations will automatically think analogically, even while you are not consciously doing it.


If you have the chance, try opening your wine bottle by inserting a screw into the cork and removing it with your hammer claw. You’ll be surprised how easy the cork comes out!

Add a comment

  • Lusine says:

    Interesting concept of creative thinking and how the brain scans for analogies.

  • Patrick Mathieu says:

    I’ve never actually tried it, but this approach looks interesting…

  • admin says:

    Thanks for the YouTube link. There are so many interesting ways to open a wine bottle. When we analyze how simple ideas bubble through our mind, we can learn a lot about the creative thinking process.

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    A Bulgarian will also add that the other trigger to the idea was the neeeeeed to drink that wine 🙂 Our brains start working in full speed for creative ideas when an obstacle like that proposes itself to us :-)))

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