So it’s time again for New Years Eve and most of you probably have a nice bottle of bubbly champagne all ready for the big night. No matter if you’ve got Dom Perignon, Cristal, or even Cook’s Brut there’s one thing you will want to do.
Open it with style.
There are three ways to open a bottle of bubbly; the right way, the fun way, and the awesome way. Before we start on the directions, there are a few things to know about champagne.
With champagne and sparkling wines the quality is directly related to the cost. The best rule of thumb is that the more you are willing to spend on a bottle, the better the bottle will be. If anyone wants to get me a nice bottle of champagne I’d ask for Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon, but this year Kenna and I will be changing it up and ringing in the new year with a bottle of Hawk Haven Merlot. Happy New Year everyone!
First of all, true champagne has to come from the Champagne region of France, and can only contain Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. Otherwise what you have is simply a “sparkling wine.” Don’t let that bother you too much though, whether you have a cava, spumante, asti, prosecco or any other bubbly beverage, let your own tastes decide what you like the best.
Secondly, the bubbles in a real bottle of champagne come from a process called secondary fermentation. After the wine is produced, yeast and sugar are added to the bottle along with the wine and, over the course of at least a year, produce all those lovely bubbles. While they do look pretty, the pressure inside an average bottle of champagne is around 90 PSI. Compare that to the 30 PSI most car tires are pressurized for. When all that pressure is released, the cork can come off the bottle with considerable force.
Now let’s get on with the good bit!
The Right Way
This is the gentle and easy way to open up a bottle of bubbly. You won’t spill any, you won’t get foam everywhere, and the cork won’t go flying across the room. First, chill your champagne. A cold bottle of champagne is easier to open, and will not foam as easily. Next, carefully remove the foil wrapper and cage from the cork. Place a dish or hand towel over the cork, and firmly grasp the cork through the towel. Next, and this is the clever bit, rotate the bottle while firmly holding the cork in place. Hold the bottle at a slight angle, and gently rotate the bottle itself until the cork releases. This will produce a soft popping noise, not a loud pop, and the cork will not fly out of the bottle. Now you can enjoy your champagne with all of the bubbles still inside the bottle. Pour the champagne gently down the side of your glass to avoid a foamy head of bubbles.
The Fun Way
I know, that first way doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. No big pop, no spray of foam, nothing. Well, this will fix that for you. First of all, don’t try this inside unless you want to clean up your kitchen, furniture and guests. Pick a spot outside and set it up as your designated champagne area. Make sure that you have a clear shot for the cork that doesn’t include any windows, cars, pets or guests. Next, carefully remove the foil wrapper and cage from your bottle. Making sure that the bottle is pointed at a slight upwards angle, and totally away from anything remotely breakable, vigorously shake the bottle several times. This alone may shoot the cork, and a large portion of champagne, in the direction you are facing. If the cork does not pop off stop shaking and do not point the bottle at yourself or anyone else. Take the ball of your thumb and firmly press against the base of the cork. Gently wiggle the cork back and forth until the pressure forces it from the neck of the bottle. After the cork is away, aim the fountain of foam at whatever or whoever you would like. Pour whatever is left of the champagne into your glasses. Find the cork if you can.
Did the fun way just not seem fun enough for you? Do you happen to have a cavalry saber lying around? Perfect! Sabrage is the art of opening a champagne bottle with a sword. It first started in Europe after the French Revolution when Napoleon’s cavalry had a lot of celebrating to do, but not many corkscrews. All you need is a bottle and a sword. First remove the foil and cage. Then, holding the bottle at a slight upward angle, quickly and firmly slide the saber up the neck of the bottle, striking the bottle at the lip. If done correctly the very top of the bottle neck will break off, with the cork still inside. This projectile of glass and cork will fly anywhere from 16 to 33 feet away. On second thought, don’t try this one. Even if you do have a sword. Hawk Haven does not recommend anyone other than trained professionals practice sabrage. Even they should probably think twice.