Popping open a bottle of champagne is wonderful and decadent. The pop and hiss of the champagne bubbling away are often associated with celebrations, events or special treats. Yet, this sumptuous and often expensive tipple comes with a danger often overlooked: the cork.
Twist the bottle, not the cork is what is often invoked from the first time you hold a bottle of champagne. But we’ve done some digging to find some other quirky, and somewhat risqué, ways to open a bottle of champagne.
Since the 17th-century champagne has been made using a double fermentation process known as ‘méthode champenoise’. This process produces an abundance of carbon dioxide leading to an internal pressure of around 5-6 atmospheres, the equivalent to two to three times the pressure in car tires and about the same as a double-decker bus’s tire.
This pressure is too high for conventional wine bottles which is why champagne bottles are much thicker and heavier than your normal Chardonnay. This is also why the corks need wire cages - to prevent them from popping prematurely. In fact, in the 19th-century cellar workers had to wear heavy iron masks to protect themselves as bottles were prone to exploding.
With the extreme pressure and cork-popping extravaganza, it’s no wonder 1000s of people sustain injuries each year. In the US alone 20% of eye injuries are the result of champagne bottles being popped while other statistics show that more people are killed by champagne corks than bites from poisonous spiders.
Now that the dangers have been popped, here are five weird and wacky ways to open a champagne bottle:
Sabrage is a technique for opening a bottle of champagne using a saber. The technique became popular in France after the success of Napoleon and his armies after the French Revolution. To celebrate, the cavalry would open champagne with their sabers.
One story tells the tale of Madame Clicquot who inherited her husband’s small champagne house at the age of 27. After entertaining Napoleon’s officers in her vineyard, the soldiers would ride off with their complimentary bottle of champagne and open it with a flourish of their saber to impress the young widow.
This tradition is still used today with saber records broken around the world. In 2015, Ashrita Furman sabered 66 bottles of champagne in one minute while in 2016, the greatest number of champagne bottles sabered simultaneously was 630 at the Sciabolata del Santeroin Santo Stefano Belbo, Italy.
2. Wine glass
Start with a glass that has a thick base – such as a white or red wine glass. Find the thin crease in the champagne bottle, lightly move the glass backward and forwards along the neck of the glass and watch the cork go flying.
Check out this smashing (excuse the pun) demonstration from our Typsy instructor Kyla Kirkpatrick. Don't forget to keep an eye out for her new course Champagne Essentials coming soon!
If you have one handy, why not use an axe? Much like a saber, the blunt side of the blade is used to slice the cork off the bottle. Beware though, sometimes being too eager can see the bottle go… boom.
Eating your dessert and need some bubbles on the side? Why not use your spoon to open the bottle? Have the rounded side of the spoon facing up and away from the bottle and then, slide the spoon along the neck to force the cork to pop.
5. A ski
What better place to keep your champagne chilled than in the French Alps? President of Devaux Champagne thought the same thing and took a bottle with him on a skiing trip. At the top of the mountain, he took off his ski and proceeded to remove the cork with it. Voila!
Before you go and try some of these wacky ways of opening a champagne bottle remember to keep safe, always use a chilled bottle of champagne, remove the foil and wire cage, and point the bottle away from your body and away from others.
Don’t forget to make sure any stray pieces of glass aren’t in the first pour when you go to take that well-earned sip.
Looking for more information on champagne? Keep an eye out for our upcoming course led by Kyla Kirkpatrick.
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