How to Open a Bottle of Champagne

Karen Frazier
Champagne cork popping

Learning how to open a bottle of Champagne may seem daunting, but it is easier and far less messy than it appears. Most people love the dramatic flair used when opening a bottle: the cork flies, champagne bubbles over the rim of the bottle, and your shoes get soaked. There is, however, a cleaner way to open champagne that will save your shoes, shirt and floor from Champagne splash overs.

The Dramatic Way

There are two showy ways to open a bottle of champagne. One involves thumb pressure and a flying cork, while the other involves a spectacular "don't try this at home" swipe with a dagger or sword.

Sabrage

Sabrage is a technique that became popular in France's Napoleanic army. During that period in history, Napolean's army would celebrate victories by using their sabers to dramatically pop out a Champagne cork. Today, using sabrage to open a bottle of Champagne is considered largely ceremonial and fairly dangerous. Those experienced at the art of sabrage use a specially-designed Champagne sword, which they slide down the angled neck of the Champagne bottle, separating the glass lip and cork from the bottle with the sword. This is a technique that should only be attempted by the very experienced at this art. Inexperienced people who have tried it have shattered bottles altogether, missed the bottle completely, wound up with glass shards in their champagne or worse.

The Cork Pop

The other showy way to open a bottle of Champagne is employing the cork pop. This is a technique best done outdoors, pointing away from people, vehicles, houses, windows, pets and your face. The cork pop uses the physics of the pressure caused by Champagne's bubbles. If you simply must have drama and want to try a cork pop, remove the foil from around the cork and unscrew the wire cage surrounding the cork to release it. Grasp the Champagne bottle between your two palms and secure it against your midsection. Now press the pads of your thumbs on the bottom of the cork, exerting a steady pressure upward until the cork pops. Have a towel handy to wipe the edges of the bottle clean and a spotter to chase the cork when it flies out of the bottle.

How to Open a Bottle of Champagne

The correct way to open a bottle of Champagne is actually much simpler and neater than the two methods described above. There is no need to open the bottle away from guests, because when you use this method, the cork slips out neatly without flying through the air or the Champagne fizzing over the edges of the bottle. This method works for other types of sparkling wines, as well, including frizzante wines, Cava and Prosecco.

To properly open a bottle of Champagne, you will need a clean towel.

  1. Remove the foil from around the cork.
  2. Untwist the wire cage and remove it from the cork.
  3. Hold the Champagne bottle firmly in your left hand at an angle tilted away from your upper body.
  4. Place the folded towel over the top of the champagne cork and neck of the bottle, grasping it firmly with your right hand.
  5. Carefully begin to twist the Champagne bottle in a clockwise direction while holding the cork steady with the towel.
  6. Continue twisting until you have eased the cork out of the bottle.
  7. Alternatively, you may hold the bottle stationary and twist the cork to gently remove it.
  8. Any Champagne that bubbles over when the cork comes out will be absorbed by the towel.
  9. Carefully wipe the neck of the bottle and pour the Champagne into waiting flutes.

It's tempting to open a bottle of Champagne with dramatic flair; however, learning how to open a bottle of Champagne properly will impress your guests, keep your windows unbroken, save the lives of your pets and keep your floor free of sticky Champagne. If you can't help yourself and you must make a cork fly, be sure you keep the bottle safely pointed away from anything that might break.

How to Open a Bottle of Champagne