Champagne is a drink that many people enjoy on special occasions. You may not have any experience with how to open a bottle of Champagne; luckily for you, we've got some easy-to-follow instructions on how to get that fizz flowing!
You need the bottle to be at the right temperature first. Then remove the foil and the wire cage, and have a good grip on the cork and the bottom of the bottle. Slowly release the pressure until the cork is removed.
If you want to learn the traditional method and other fun ways of opening Champagne, read on!
What You’ll Need
- Champagne bottle - First and foremost, you'll need a bottle of your favorite Champagne to open. However, if you're not confident with your bottle opening skills, you can opt for a cheap Champagne bottle.
- Towel - This is put over the cork to prevent accidents because of flying corks. It keeps the bottle clean and dry. If you’d need a mop towel to wipe those leaks, check out this list of the best bar mop towels.
Optional Tools for Other Methods
- Champagne bottle opener - This little gadget will help you open difficult-to-open bottles of Champagne. They also give you the leverage to remove corks easily.
- Saber - The Champagne Saber is a sword-like item used for one of the most exciting skills you can learn as a bartender: sabrage. Sabering Champagne is an alternative way of opening Champagne bottles, usually for flair or entertainment.
- Kitchen Knife or Butter Knife - If you don't have access or desire to an expensive blade that is the Champagne saber, then your kitchen knife or butter knife will do just fine.
The blunt side can create enough force to open a Champagne bottle successfully. A chef's knife will do the job, but a long-blade bread knife will do even better!
- Spoon - Opening a Champagne bottle with a spoon may sound impossible right now. But if you read further below, you'll understand, and surely, you will be amazed as well.
- Wine Glass - Opening a bottle of wine using a wine glass sounds unconventional, but it works! Just make sure you pick a thick and sturdy wine glass. If you don't, you'll end up with a shattered wine glass and an unopened Champagne bottle.
Step-by-step Instructions: Opening the Bottle
Checking the Surroundings
Point the bottle away from any person or object that could be damaged by its spray. Make sure you don't point it at anything too delicate, like glassware and chandeliers!
Preparing the Bottle
- Tear off the foil and tags (if there’s any) on the top and around the neck of your bottle.
- Get a grip on your bottle and position it at a 45-degree angle.
- Loosen the muselet (wire cage) by twisting it, and at the same time, press the cork firmly with your thumb so it won't pop out prematurely.
Opening the Bottle
- To make sure you're safe from flying corks, place a dish towel or kitchen towel over the top and neck of the bottle.
- Get a grip on the bottom of the bottle, and make sure you position your hand securely. Use your dominant hand to hold the cork.
- Twist the base of the bottle gently while still holding the cork. If you feel the cork coming loose, slowly remove the pressure from your hand. You will then hear a fizzing or soft popping sound when the cork is fully removed.
- Don’t jerk or position your newly-opened bottle upright immediately. Instead, hold it in place for about 5 to 10 seconds, maintaining the 45-degree angle. This is one way to avoid the overproduction of foam.
- Then slowly place the bottle on the table, or you can take it right away so you can pour and drink the Champagne.
For a visual tutorial, you can watch this video:
Using a Champagne Bottle Opener
Sometimes, people rely on tools to make their jobs easier or if they aren't very confident with their own skills yet. There are many bottle openers for Champagne and other sparkling wines out there. And how to use one will depend on the design of said gadget.
Usually, a Champagne opener is designed in a way that allows it to grip, like a pair of pliers. Here's how to operate it:
- Remove the foil and the wire of the bottle.
- Take your opener and place it on the top of the sparkling wine. Make sure that it holds the cork.
- Grasp the tool with one hand to grip the cork, and use the other hand to keep the bottle's body.
- Lift the tool, and you'll be able to hear a popping sound that indicates that the cork is removed.
Watch this video on how to use a Champagne bottle opener:
There will usually be spills with Champagne popping because the sudden release of pressure will overwhelm the gases, eventually leading to foam overflowing.
But, you'll still be able to pour the majority of the wine into Champagne glasses and serve them to guests.
- Detach the foil wrapping and use your dominant hand to hold the bottle firmly.
- Use your other hand to undo the muselet. When doing this, position the cork away from people.
The cork gets triggered easily in some bottles and will go flying off just after you remove the muselet. However, in most bottles, the cork can get stuck. If this happens, you just need to trigger the launch yourself.
- Without removing your dominant hand around the bottle's body, hold your other hand around the lower part of the cork.
- Loosen the cork by giving a powerful twist until you feel pressure pushing up from below.
- At this point, push the cork with your thumb and send it flying.
This video will show the Champagne popping method:
Spray / Party Method
The spray method is a fun and exciting way to start a party. You might have already seen this technique in movies or shows wherein the protagonist or winner gets sprayed to mark their victory.
Sometimes, this method is preferred by people holding special occasions like weddings, bachelor or bachelorette parties.
It's important to note that you empty the whole bottle in the spray method without consuming it. In other words, this method is not intended for serving. Instead, it is a glamorous and often wild way to get people amped up in a party.
But, you could stop spraying halfway through the bottle so you'll still have something to drink. You could also spray the Champagne directly into someone's mouth so they can drink it even just a bit.
The Champagne spray is both an art and a science. It's easier than you might think at first but challenging to pull off without some careful strategy on your end!
- Open the bottle using the traditional method.
- Once the cork is completely off, immediately cover the opening with your thumb.
- Start to shake the bottle aggressively until you start to feel the pressure building up against your thumb. As the Champagne escapes from the bottle, move your thumb until it covers half of the opening and spray!
- Continue spraying and shaking vertically at a 45-degree angle until all the liquid content is out of the bottle.
This video will help you execute this method better:
Saber / Knife / Spoon Method
In sabering Champagne, you'll typically need a tool called a "saber" or "sword." These things can get pretty expensive, so if you can't have your hands on one, you can use a knife or a spoon as alternatives.
The process is the same with the three tools. However, in using the knife, use the blunt side, and in using the spoon, grip the handle, position the head against the seam, bowl down. This technique can take some time and practice, so it's essential to have patience with it!
- Remove the foil cap and the wire.
- Look around your bottle and locate the "seam." It should look like a straight line that extends down the side of the bottle. This is an important step that you shouldn't miss as the seam is the weak spot of the bottle and where you'll be sabering.
- Place your dominant hand around the bottle's body and grip it firmly. Position the bottle at a 45-degree angle and make sure you point it away from people.
- Position the saber/knife/spoon flat against the seam.
- Use the seam as your guide on where to thrust the saber/knife/spoon. As your tool approaches the lip of your bottle, it's time to firmly and swiftly push it forward. Remember that your target is the area where the seam and the lip meet.
- Allow the Champagne to overflow a bit to remove some glass shards if there are any. Pour the Champagne into the wine glasses.
- Be careful so you won't cut yourself or any guests. Double-check if tiny pieces of glass got into the wine glasses.
You can watch this video on how to saber Champagne:
And this video for using a knife:
And finally, this video on using a spoon:
Wine Glass Method
The wine glass method is similar to the saber/knife/spoon method but with the base of a wine glass. This is a convenient way of opening a Champagne bottle if you've forgotten to bring any opening devices during picnics!
- Get a sturdy white wine glass or red wine glass. It has to be thick, especially the base part, as this is what you'll hit the lip with.
- As usual, you have to remove the foil wrapper and the wire cage.
- Use your dominant hand to give a firm grip on the bottle's body, and use the other to hold the wine glass by its stem near the base or by the bowl. The bottle should be positioned at a 45-degree angle.
- Trace the seam with the wine glass base. Once you've found your perfect timing, thrust the base quickly and firmly toward the lip. That should send the cork flying across the room.
- Like the previous method, allow the bottle to overflow before pouring it into glasses. Your drinking glass can be the one you used to saber the bottle.
Here is a video on how to use a wine glass in opening Champagne:
Tips in Opening a Champagne Bottle
Getting the Bottle at the Right Temperature
To avoid having your sparkling wine burst prematurely, make sure the bottle is properly chilled at about 45 degrees Fahrenheit before you open Champagne. A room-temperature bottle is more likely to explode.
To properly chill the Champagne, you can make an ice bath. Fill an ice bucket with water and ice of equal portions. Then, submerge the whole bottle into the bucket. If you have a wine fridge, you can simply put the bottle in it and set it to the appropriate temperature.
Commit to your Method of Opening
Each of the methods mentioned has its own risks and costs. With this, you need to educate yourself about the ways and ensure you're equipped with everything from the tools to the skills.
For example, if you want to show off your spraying skills, you need to know that you'll be wasting a whole bottle of Champagne. This isn't the right choice if you intend to drink the wine. Popping will also waste some Champagne but not as much as spraying.
Meanwhile, in sabrage, you will be handling a dangerous weapon that can potentially hurt someone, and shards of glass can get anywhere too! Make sure you prep well enough and have a backup plan for unfortunate accidents that may happen.
Survey your Surroundings
The pressure inside the bottle can suddenly shoot up and send your cork flying if you’re not careful enough! Be extra cautious where you point the cork. A safe direction is away from people and objects that may be easily broken by a rapid force.
To prevent accidents from happening, you can open a bottle in an open area, especially if you are going to follow the popping, spray, saber, and wine glass method.
Shaking the Bottle: Yes or No?
Shaking the bottle sounds like trouble waiting to happen, right? But in an experiment by some French scientists, they have found that shaking sparkling wines forcefully is an effective way to decrease the pressure buildup inside.
After shaking the bottle, the trick is to let it rest for about 220 seconds before opening. The 220 second-interval will activate the pressure drop, which will only last for approximately 30 seconds.
Despite reducing pressure, it may not be a practical solution for some people, especially since you need to find the perfect timing to open the bottle after shaking. But, you can still try to see whether this technique works for you.
In the meantime, if you don't want to waste a single drop of Champagne, you can stick to the traditional method. However, in the spraying method, shaking is a critical factor in spraying the wine successfully.
Practice is Key
If it's your first time opening a bottle of Champagne, there will be possibilities of failures or lackluster results, but that is okay! Even professionals had their fair share of failures before they learned how to flawlessly and effortlessly open a bottle of sparkling wine.
You just need to practice more and learn from your past mistakes. Reading and watching tutorials can also help!
Dealing with a Stubborn Champagne Cork
If the cork is stubborn and won’t budge, a pro tip you can take is to apply heat to the neck by running it under warm water for a span of 3 to 5 minutes. The immediate increase in temperature will trigger the carbonation around the bottle's neck, and the pressure will push the cork out of the bottle.
There are many ways of opening a Champagne bottle. Whether you do it the traditional way or the other unusual but extraordinary methods, your guests are guaranteed to have a great time with their drink.
We hope this article has helped you decide which technique will work best for you. Are you ready to open your Champagne bottle? Let us know if we left out one of your favorite opening techniques in the comments section below!