A Safe Way, an Expert Way and a FUN Way to open a Bottle of Sparkling Wine

Open That Sparkling Wine With Confidence
Opening a bottle of sparkling wine makes lots of people a bit nervous. Even wine enthusiasts are nervous when they hear about sabering, wondering if they should try. It’s not so hard, really!  Let’s go through a few basics on all the ways to open a bottle of sparkling wine.

Safe Way to Open: Cover with a Towel
One of the risks of sparkling wine is when the cork goes flying before you’re ready. You could put someone’s eye out! Master the safe way and you’ll be comfortable anytime you’re called upon to open that expensive bottle of Champagne.

Here are a few steps to remember:

  • Chill the bottle well
  • Remove the foil
  • Drape a towel over the top to prevent an errant cork flying away
  • The plaque du muselet (wire cage holding the cork in place) requires 6 half-turns to open fully.
  • Leave the plaque in place for a better grip.
  • Grip the cork with one hand and the bottom of the bottle with the other. Twist the bottle, not the cork
  • Voila!

Expert Way to Open: With a “Sigh”
Similar to the safe way, the expert way takes an extra step to open the bottle with the slightest sound, like your significant other sighing. Following the steps above, you’ll need to keep an especially good grip on the cork and maintain a constant pressure down as the cork is trying to release. Do it well and you’ll be rewarded with that “sigh”.

FUN Way to Open: Saber It!
Sabering is fun on special occasions like birthdays and celebrations. OK, sabering does involve a bit of risk, the bottle could break in a bigger way than you had planned. If you follow a few simple rules, you’ll master the FUN way to open a bottle of sparkling wine!

Keys to Successful Sabering:

  • Traditional Method only – Champagne, Crémant, Franciacorta, American sparklers. No Prosecco (Charmat method)
  • Remove all the foil.
  • Move the cage up to the top rim of the bottle
  • Find and mark the seam
  • We like to put a marker on the cage to make it easier to find in the yard
  • Oh, right.  Outdoors only!
  • Chill the neck of the bottle well.
  • Use a dull blade – back side of a chef’s knife works well
  • Point the bottle up slightly so you don’t lose all the wine
  • Lay the blade flat against the bottle, on top of the seam
  • Slide the blade along the seam and follow through
  • Have a glass ready!

How NOT to Open a Bottle of Sparkling Wine
If you follow wine social media at all, you have been inundated with an embarrassing saber fail at the French Laundry in California. Luckily, no one was hurt, except the $2000 giant bottle of Champagne… The original post can be seen here. Now that you know how to do it correctly, how many things did they do wrong?

5 Responses to “A Safe Way, an Expert Way and a FUN Way to open a Bottle of Sparkling Wine”
  1. Becky Ellis says:

    Reblogged this on BubblyBEE.net and commented:
    This last video of an embarrassing saber fail at the French Laundry will make you want to cry $2,000 bottle of champagne ruined!

  2. uncorked74 says:

    You asked in your article how many things they did wrong…it would probably be easier to count up the number of things they actually did right (which was practically nothing! ;-)) Great article!

    • I agree. Tilt the bottle down, then fail on swipe #1 and start chopping. They deserved every bit of glass. Unfortunately, some poorly paid staff spent hours cleaning that one up. Not a proud moment for the French Laundry.

  3. outwines says:

    Way to go niece Ellie! Very impressive for a first timer (but you DID have a great coach)! 🙂

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