Opening a bottle of Champagne seems pretty straightforward, right? You just pop the cork—and hope it doesn’t hit someone in the eye. In fact, there is a better way to open your Champagne or sparkling wine, that not only protects the people and property around you, but preserves the effervescence of your bubbly.
Sure, using a saber to open a bottle of Champagne might be kind of badass, but you should really leave that to the professionals—and unless your end goal is to create a geyser of fizz (in which case, shake and spray away), you should probably revise your technique in general. Theatrics aside, you don’t actually want that big explosion, because dramatically popping your Champagne cork releases a ton of CO2, which makes the wine go flat way faster than it would if you opened it the proper way.
We asked Wine & Spirit Education Trust educator Vanessa Price to show us how it’s done. Watch and learn, and refer to our little cheat sheet when you need to, whether you’re dealing with Cook’s, Cristal, or something in between.
How to Open a Bottle of Champagne
1. Locate the tab on the foil around the neck of the bottle. You won’t actually need a wine key to remove this; just grab the tab and peel away the foil to expose the cork in its wire cage.
2. Keeping your thumb on the top of the cork, twist open the wire cage to loosen it, but don’t actually remove it from the cork. Once you loosen it, remember: the wine is totally your responsibility. The pressure in the bottle is equivalent to that of a fully inflated car tire, so you want to keep your hand or thumb on the cork at all times just to ensure it doesn’t get away from you.
3. Get a good grip on the cork with one hand and pick up the bottle with the bottom firmly grasped in your other hand. Turn the bottle itself—rather than twisting the cork—until it loosens; when you feel it loosen, give it a little leverage and wiggle gently until the cork comes out with a rather muffled pop. You can also place a dish towel over the cork for extra insurance before completing this step.
And you’ve done it: opened your Champagne without undermining the quality of the wine (not to mention probably terrifying at least one or two people, and potentially injuring someone or something with a wayward projectile)!
Armed with this knowledge, you can set up a Champagne bar, make sparkling wine cocktails, or simply drink more bubbly in general—because there’s no need to reserve the fizzy stuff for formally festive occasions when you can make every day a celebration!
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