Champagne is a fancy yet dangerous way to ring in the new year. Popping open a bottle is invigorating. It’s like trying to pop a balloon: you know it will happen, but it still shocks you when it actually explodes. A champagne bottle holds up to 90 pounds of pressure per square inch, more than the average car tire. A champagne cork can travel up to 55 miles an hour when released, and is capable of causing serious eye injury and even death. So how do you open a champagne bottle safely while still looking like a boss?
Open it while it’s cold
Make sure the bottle is cold. Bottle pressure can build if the champagne inside is warm. (Who wants warm champagne anyway?) If you have been chilling your bottles on ice, be sure to dry them before opening, so you can ensure a firm grip on the bottle. You don’t want to attempt opening it while it’s slippery and risk simultaneously take someone’s eye out while shattering the bottle on the floor. Important note: When you are removing the wiring around the cork, do so very slowly. I can’t tell you how many bottles I have prematurely popped as I took off the wire casing.
Use a cloth and twist
In my first real job, I worked as a banquet server for a local Inn. I served at least two weddings each weekend for three years. Suffice it to say; I’ve opened my fair share of champagne bottles. If you want to open the bottle without the pomp and circumstance, grab a cold bottle of champagne and a kitchen rag. Angle the bottle away from you at 45 degrees (and also away from guests, and windows, and appliances). Place the rag around the cork and twist slowly, either turning it in a full circle or little by little to the right and to the left until you hear the pop. Remove the cork, see the satisfying fizzy smoke emerge, and get ready to pour.
Use a spoon to saber the bottle
You may have seen a video of someone sabering a champagne bottle. Don’t try it: Chopping the bottle with a sword or knife is probably the most dangerous way to uncork the fizzy drink. Not because of the cork, mind you; wielding a sword without the proper experience is risky at any time. A common misconception is that you just chop off the top of the bottle. Sabering requires a 45 degree angled bottle and a 40 degree angled cut of the sword.
You can saber champagne with safer items, like a bar spoon or butter knife. In the video below, How to Drink with Greg on YouTube shares the history and science behind sabering. He even sabers a few bottles with a champagne glass stem, though I wouldn’t recommend that one.
Don’t be afraid to make a mess
It is important not to shake the bottle before opening, but there is no harm in shaking it afterward. If you don’t care too much about your floors (and want to celebrate like it’s 1999), pop open the cork and shake. First, angle the bottle away from yourself and others (again, 45 degrees). Place a small rag around the cork, and press your thumb against the lip of the bottle and the cork to force the cork out (it will go flying, so make sure everyone and everything is out of harm’s way).
After you hear the pop, place your thumb on the bottle opening and shake to make it spray like a sprinkler. Most of the drink will land on the floor. This is not the most effective way to enjoy your champagne, but it makes for a good show.