Master the Saber with French Fizz #Winophiles

Chartogne-Taillet Champagne and saber

No better time for the saber than Champagne and holidays. Make sure you’re fully trained!

French #Winophiles Celebrate French Fizz
This month our French #Winophiles group is exploring and sharing all things related to French Fizz. From expensive Champagne to humble sparkling wines from minor regions and all things in between.  In lieu of a food pairing, I’m sharing our absolute favorite way to share sparkling wine: the saber!  Whenever friends come over, we’ll pop of bottle of sparkling wine as soon as they arrive. It makes every visit a special occasion. Even better when there is a birthday or any other reason to celebrate. Sometimes the occasion is that friends stopped by! Then, the saber comes out. France makes a ton of sparkling wine outside of Champagne, and it is typically much more affordable, perfect for practicing sabering skills.

Sabering: An Essential Skill
Face it, sabering a bottle of Champagne is something every wine enthusiast aspires to.

  • Legend has it that Napoleon’s troops stationed in Champagne were eager to gain the attention of the Veuve Cliquot, the young widow who was a Champagne winery owner. They took to sabering their Champagne on horseback as a way of attracting her attention. Sorry, sabering isn’t enough, you’ll need to learn to do it on horseback.
  • But what about the danger? Manageable, especially with good technique.
  • Isn’t a special saber required? Nope. You probably have a chef’s knife which will work well.
  • Will the glass go into the bottle? A bottle of sparkling wine is pressurized to a similar level as the tires in your car, the glass goes out, not in.
  • Follow along and learn by doing.
  • First, watch a pro in action (I’m genetically programmed to say “whooooo” whenever I see a bottle sabered):

Sabering Step By Step

(click on any photo to start slideshow, escape to return)

Now for Show

After you have practiced with no one watching, it’s time to gather your friends, get your smart phone, go outdoors. Hey, you could put an eye out with that thing! Point the bottle away from your group of admirers.

Congratulations! You did remember to have someone standing by with an empty glass, right? Once you successfully saber a bottle, you’ll never miss on the first try again; it’s like riding a bike!

Safety First. Okay, maybe this shouldn’t have been the last point. The broken top of the wine bottle in your hand is incredibly sharp! Be very careful not to touch it in the slightest way. Next, go and recover the top you just sabered off the bottle; no fun finding it with the lawn mower.  Note: the bottom of the bottle top is also very sharp. You can take the sharp edge off by using the sidewalk as sandpaper. Just a few strokes all around the sharp edge and the bottle top can be saved as a trophy.

Important Safety Note
There is some inherent risk with a knife and a pressurized bottle of wine. Slide the saber, don’t strike!

Safety Equipment
If you want to be cautious, you can always wear leather gloves and safety glasses. Or if you recently had a bottle shatter in your hand and you want to get back up on that sabering horse, gloves & glasses.

Super Slo-Mo
Finally, take advantage of the cool super slo-mo on your phone, you’ll love the video!

Winophiles Dive Deep into French Fizz
Join us on Saturday December 17th at 10:00 am central time on twitter. We’ll be there under the hashtag #Winophiles. There we will chat about all things related to French Fizz…from all over the country, made from any method, made with any grape.

A Recipe for Successful Sabering

  1. Start with a Methode Traditionelle or Methode Champenoise Wine. Most French sparkling wines fit in this category. No need to spend $50+ a pop while you’re working out the details. Use Crémant or almost any French Sparkling wine (notice how I wove in our theme there!). They are made by Methode Traditionelle and are usually available for $20 or so.
  2. Remove the foil covering and move the cage up 1 notch on the bottle. Bonus points for tying a ribbon on the cage, makes it much easier to find the top in the grass/snow.
  3. Find the seam along the edge of the bottle. Wine bottles are molded in two halves. The top edge of the bottle rim at the seam is the weak spot in the whole entire bottle. We will exploit this with our saber. Find the seam, and if convenient, mark its’ location.
  4. Chill the wine very well. Bury the bottle in ice, this is no time to scrimp!
  5. Choose your weapon. Do you have a fun sabering tool in your house? You’re looking for a medium size knife with a dull edge. You probably have a chef’s knife, that will do just fine (you’re going to saber on the back edge, not the sharp side). Does your son or daughter have a ceremonial karate sword?  An old bayonet somewhere? Be creative.  I aspire to do it with a wine glass, although I haven’t tried that one yet. A good friend acquired a goat horn handle ceremonial short sword for me from Egypt; one of my most prized possessions.
  6. Gather your friends, get your smart phone, go outdoors. Hey, you could put an eye out with that thing! Go outdoors and point the bottle away from your group of admirers. Maybe skip the group of admirers for your first attempt.
  7. Follow-through is key. Now, pay attention, don’t actually make the stroke. Hold the bottle, pointing slightly up (don’t want lose any wine). Lay the knife (dull side away from you) flat on the bottle. You are going to sweep the knife out, along the neck of the bottle and through the bottle top and cork as if it weren’t there. Think tennis stroke, golf swing, shotgun shooting, ping pong; follow-through. Note that you are going to break the very top of the glass bottle off, many people think you just hit the cork, not so!
  8. One, two, three. OK, finally. Practice strokes on counts one and two, and follow through on three. Easy!  If you don’t succeed on your first try, don’t worry! Take a breath, remember to follow through. You’re sweeping out and through, not chopping, not striking, sweeping.
  9. Congratulations! You did remember to have someone standing by with an empty glass, right? Once you successfully saber a bottle, you’ll never miss on the first try again; it’s like riding a bike!
  10. Safety First. Okay, maybe this shouldn’t have been the last point. The broken top of the wine bottle in your hand is incredibly sharp! Be very careful not to touch it in the slightest way. Next, go and recover the top you just sabered off the bottle; no fun finding it with the lawn mower.  Note: the bottom of the bottle top is also very sharp. You can take the sharp edge off by using the sidewalk as sandpaper. Just a few strokes all around the sharp edge and the bottle top can be saved as a trophy.

 

 

Comments
8 Responses to “Master the Saber with French Fizz #Winophiles”
  1. Way to do a deep dive on sabering Jeff! I’ve tried a few times (well it took a few tries to do one bottle;-), but I got it done! Wish I’d had this before I started!

  2. I am not ready to branch out into sabering but I sure enjoying watching it. I have been with The Drunken Cyclist on two different occasions of his sabering; however, he likes to use non-traditional instruments so it can take a while. It is great fun to watch. I’ll have to post the videos at some point. Thanks for sharing. Cheers!

  3. Wendy Klik says:

    Wow, very impressive. I think I will just be the one to watch and do the whoooooooo!!!

Trackbacks
Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Jeff from FoodWineClick!: Master the Saber with French Fizz […]

  2. […] Crémant is made in a variety of regions all over France. Lots of good sparkling choices from the Loire region. This is Crémant de Loire Many appellations of the Loire allow sparkling versions of the main wine. Vouvray for example, can be still or sparkling Bugey is a tiny region between the Jura and Savoie. Fun Sparkling wines! There are a few sparkling wines that are not made by Methode Champenoise. If you see an alcohol level below 12%, likely it was made by another method. This is a fun example. […]



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