If you're new to opening Champagne, it can be a little intimidating. Are you suppose to have the cork blow out and dent the ceiling? Eh, not exactly. If you're into the drama, then by all means, let the cork fly. There is, however, a more subtle way to open Champagne that won't leave everything dripping with sticking bubbles.
How to Open a Bottle of Champagne
Opening a bottle of Champagne can be a clean, quiet, and simple affair if you choose. This method works for all sparkling wines that are corked under pressure, including crémant, cava, and prosecco. Once the bottle is chilled, find yourself a clean dish towel or similar to get started.
- Remove the foil from around the cork by using the tab or a wine key for a cleaner look.
- Place the folded towel or napkin over the top of the cork and cage.
- Hold the Champagne bottle firmly at a 45-degree angle tilted away from you.
- Untwist the wire cage counterclockwise, applying pressure to keep the cork from popping prematurely.
- Once the cage is loose, carefully begin to twist the Champagne bottle in a clockwise direction while holding the cork steady with the towel.
- Continue twisting until you have eased the cork out of the bottle, releasing the pressure gradually.
- Carefully wipe the neck of the bottle and pour the Champagne into waiting flutes.
The Dramatic Way
Into the drama? 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.
Everyone is familiar with a blow out bottle of Champagne. If you want the hype and don't mind wasting some of the bubbles in the process, it's a viable option to open Champagne. Once you remove the foil and unscrew the wire cage, grasp the bottle between your two palms and secure it against your midsection. Then press the pads of your thumbs on the bottom of the cork, exerting a steady pressure upward until the cork pops. Important! Aim the bottle away from anyone and anything -- the cork can fly out with aggression.
Most people are less familiar with the second method. Sabrage is a technique that became popular in France's Napoleonic era when Napoleon'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, as you can imagine the number of unpleasant or very bad scenarios that can come from a mishandled sabrage opening.
Getting It Right
Opening a bottle of bubbles professionally is something that everyone should have in their repertoire. The sophistication of an understated opening is what all quality Champagnes deserve. If you must make a whole big thing of it, skip a sabrage attempt and lean into the cork pop.