Our cottage was equipped with every utensil you can possible imagine from blenders to coffee makers, to tea filters. They also had a whole children’s set of utensils including my absolute favourite colourful plastic cups with faces on! Being stocked up to the high heavens with kitchen equipment, they also, naturally, had a corkscrew.
Lewis and I had just returned from a peaceful night out where we had gorged ourselves on some fine Greek food under the stars, lulled by the sound of crickets. Having especially resisted ordering any alcohol tonight, we now couldn’t wait to have a sip of wine.
Our four bottles of wine from Sclavos natural winery stood on the kitchen side, each one looking at us temptingly.
“I still don’t know how we’re going to drink all these in three nights.” Lewis complained.
“I’m sure we’ll manage.” I responded breezily.
Neither Lewis nor I are big drinkers. Sure, we enjoy the glass of wine in the evenings but that’s just it, a glass of wine. Fitting four bottles into three days is something else and although I hated to give in to doubts, Lewis did have a point.
We were in such a kerfuffle because we both only travel with hand-luggage. We also don’t exactly travel light and both of our carry-ons were crammed full of stuff. We were just fortunate that Jet2 hadn’t weighed our bags upon arrival as they would have both been undoubtedly overweight. So, with only two small bags which were stuffed to the brim as it was, it was looking virtually impossible for us to transport any wine home. Thus, we would have to drink them.
I turned my attention back to the glistening bottles in front of us, each one beautifully crafted using only the most natural of wine methods. After waiting in oak barrels for up to a year with minimal intervention, these gorgeous drinks were now finally ready. But which would we have first?
I loved them all. Each wine tasted so unique and learning the individual methods behind each one made them even more special. However, both Lewis and I had a clear favourite – Metagnition, the organic wine with the most minimal intervention. This deep orange wine has an unusual yet addictive taste which is unlike anything I have ever tasted before. Plus, just knowing how special the bottle is with only 700 being produced per year, adds to the experience.
Seeing as we were planning on drinking all bottles before returning home, there was no need to save the best to last, we concluded. Therefore Metagnition was the chosen wine for the evening.
I opened the draw and pulled out the corkscrew before handing it over to Lewis, allowing him to do the honours.
I suck at opening wine. I always manage to demolish the cork so I just leave it up to Lewis. Especially with such a prized bottle, I could not face messing it up.
Lewis ripped open the seal on the top of the wine, revealing the beige cork.
He smiled at it. “They’ve used proper corks.” Atop the cork was a stamp with the Slavos logo on it. I held the bottle for a moment, feeling the soft rubber cork. It was certainly softer than any corks I’d ever met before. Perhaps Lewis was right. This was what a cork should have been like and most companies used cheap alternatives.
The corkscrew went in and Lewis began to turn it. Almost at once a tear appeared in the top of the cork. I bit my lip.
“This corkscrew isn’t very good.” He remarked, staring at the fresh crack. “It’s really not good.”
“I’m sure it will be fine.” I shrugged, like I seem to do with everything. “Just be careful.”
As he continued to turn the screw, the crack only got larger. He tried to get at it from a different angle but again the hole opened up until crack.
My eyes widened in horror as the corkscrew jerked out of the bottle at speed, half the corkscrew attached. I watched on in dismay at the second half of the cork wedged firmly within the bottle neck.
“This corkscrew is absolutely useless.” Lewis proclaimed, throwing it down in fury.
“Ahhh,” I laughed. “A poor work-man blames his tools.”
Lewis glanced sharply at me, a look that screamed ‘now is not the time for jokes.’
And just like that, the mood of the evening shattered into a thousand pieces on the floor, much like the corkscrew, and we were instead left with a tense, clammy atmosphere filled with expletives and groans of frustration.
The next strategy was to try to use the corkscrew to get the second half of the cork out. Lewis tried getting at the cork from an angle to try and get as much length of screw in it as possible, hoping to then pull it out.
This strategy wasn’t gaining much traction and instead small flakes of cork were all that emerged from the neck of the bottle. Still, he persisted, trying to steepen the angle every time until suddenly with a violent snap the end of the corkscrew went flying across the kitchen.
“Oh, for fucks sake.” He screamed.
The useless corkscrew was now well and truly useless. All that was left now was half of the screw which was rendered with a blunt end. His bottle-opening days were over. Although, he was never really up to the job as it was.
We contemplated going out to the shops to by a new one. Alas it was too late and every single shop in the area was closed. So we were stuck with what we had in the house.
With the stump of the corkscrew, I tried my best to get the cork out. My feeble attempts merely showered the floor with a confetti made of cork.
Lewis was now concerned that bits of cork would now be getting in the wine. And let’s not forget that this isn’t just any wine, it’s the very best of the best wine! We argued. We screamed. I think I may have even shed a tear or two. The night was turning into a monumental disaster.
As if the mess couldn’t get any worse, as Lewis attempted once again to use the corkscrew’s feeble stump to desperately try and grip the cork, he put too much pressure on the neck of the bottle. In a horrific crunch, the top of the bottle shattered and shards of green glass fell to the kitchen worktop.
This was a nightmare. All we wanted was our wine!
I tried to frantically google how to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew. The internet is full of weird and wonderful solutions and I just had no idea which were actually genius and which were downright stupid. Using a shoe seemed to be a common method but I couldn’t quite contemplate that. The only recurring solution seemed to be using a key.
“No way.” Lewis shook his head. “Imagine if the key snapped as well.”
He did have a point. So I decided to look around the cottage for absolutely anything that we could use to open the bottle with. A coat-hanger? We tried but nope. A knife? Again, we gave it ago but all it got out was a few flakes of cork. There was nothing in this house that could work!
“We have to use the key.” I urged.
Lewis still resisted and went off on a tirade at the stupid corkscrew and the fact that we had far more wine than we could drink.
I couldn’t tell you exactly how long we were there frantically trying to open our wine but I do know that the minutes stretched into hours and our frustrated minds began to feel utterly defeated.
“Use the key.” I repeated from my half-asleep state on the sofa, my body covered with sweat from the scorching room.
At first the key seemed as useless as the corkscrew but then, Lewis felt movement under his hands.
“It moved!” He exclaimed, ecstatic.
I jumped up, my eyes wide with hope.
I watched as Lewis used the car-key which was stabbing into the cork from an angle. Applying as much pressure into the corner as he could, he used that to try and lever the cork up the bottle. It was working! Slowly but surely the cork was crawling upwards until finally it surfaced. The wine was open!
I only wished that I had the energy to dance around in happiness but I was honestly feeling so drained and deflated. The irony was that I didn’t even feel like wine any more. Nearly three hours had passed. That’s right. Three long hours. All I wanted to do now was get to bed.
We poured ourselves a glass each because it felt like we had to do that but neither of us could stomach more than a few sips. So after all that, the wine retired to the fridge.
We dragged our feet as we could ready for bed and for the first time I noticed that I was shivering yet dripping with sweat. That’s odd. I decided that I really needed to get to bed and was just overtired. Yet as I lay in bed that night, sleep was the last thing that came to me. I was freezing. I couldn’t stop shivering. I wrapped up as much as I could only to find myself suddenly sweating too much. I felt sick and I couldn’t sleep.
To make matters worse I kept needing to pee (totally normal for me) and every time I stood up to go to the toilet, the world would spin. I had to prop myself up on furniture and press my hands against the walls as I practically crawled to the bathroom. I was not well at all. As the hours of restlessness went by, I gave in to the fact that I had acquired a fever. It was going to be a long night.