Opening a bottle of Champagne with your hands is fine and all, but wouldn’t you rather open it with a knife or sword? I know I do.
I’ve been doing a lot of presentations and chats and dinners involving Champagne and I try to always work in sabering. It’s the opening of a bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine by popping the top of the bottle with a sword or knife or other hard object. What I think everyone is surprised when they do it for the first time is how dang easy it is.
Your goal this year should be to saber a bottle of bubbly.
Or invite me over and we’ll do it together.
Here’s my process…
1. You can do this with any sparkling wine, assuming it has enough pressure in the bottle. Champagne. California sparkling. Cava. 2. Make sure it’s chilled. 3. If you have a sword, that’s great. I’ve been using a standard dinner knife and that works good as well. 4. Take off the foil on the neck of the bottle 5. Now, some people take the cage off the bottle and some leave it on. Personally, I take the cage off as it gets in the way. 6. Every bottle will have a vertical seam on it. Find that seam. I think of that as the ‘runway’ for your knife. This is the path your knife will follow. 7. Hold the bottle at a 45 degree angle pointing away from people, animals, or breakable items. 8. Note that you may spray some wine doing this, so don’t do it on mom’s nice new rug.
Now we are ready to saber this bottle. Note that you are not cutting the top off with the knife – hence the sharpness of the knife is irrelevant. With most knives you are using the back of the knife anyway. You are basically hitting the ring on the neck of the bottle with a blunt object. The pressure inside the bottle takes care of the rest.
9. Holding the bottle at the 45 degree angle, take your knife and smoothly slide it up the bottle and make contact with the neck. It does not take a lot of muscle or force to do this. 10. In theory the neck with intact cork will go flying away. Unless it doesn’t work and then just try it again. And again. Eventually it will pop. 11. Be careful of the top of the bottle. While it is a very clean cut, it can also be quite sharp. 12. You just opened a bottle with a knife. You kick ass! Let’s do another.
There are great tutorials and videos on how to do this. Here’s author Kathryn Borel showing you how (I liked her book).