Opening a champagne bottle is a powerful celebration ritual. The effect is grand, but the act of opening the bottle can be tricky if you haven’t done it before. You’ll need to twist the bottle, hold the cork, and gently push the cork out of the bottle. Make sure to keep a firm grip on the cork unless you want a champagne shower! Aim for a “sigh,” not a “pop.”
EditOpening the Bottle
- Remove the foil and the metal cage. First, tear off the foil wrap that covers the cork. Then, untwist the wire loop to loosen the wire cage that protects the cork. Be gentle and take your time. Keep a thumb on the cork to head off an accidental pop.
- Do not remove the wire cage until you are about to open the bottle! Otherwise, you may risk the bottle uncorking before you are ready. The cage is there to protect the cork.
- Hold the bottle properly. Grip the body of the bottle in your dominant hand. Wedge the bulbous end of the cork deep into the palm of your non-dominant hand.
- Support the base of the bottle against your hip. If you’re holding the bottle in your right hand, use your right hip or the right side of your torso.
- Consider holding the cork with a kitchen towel. This can help you apply friction, making it easier to catch and contain the cork as it pops out of the bottle. The towel may also protect against a spill.
- Twist the bottle and hold the cork. Slowly rotate the bottle back and forth with your dominant hand. Keep holding the cork steady with your non-dominant hand. As the cork turns, gradually increase the distance between your hands until your dominant hand is midway down the bottle.
- Pop the bottle. Decide what effect you’re trying to achieve. If you’re indoors or around a lot of people, make sure to take out the cork gently to avoid damage. If you want the dramatic effect of a champagne shower, then you can open the bottle with a mighty pop and send the cork flying high through the air. If you are opening champagne for a classy occasion: aim for a “sigh,” not a “pop.”
- Opening gently: Slow down your twisting toward the end, once the cork is almost out. Grasp the cork firmly. Press your thumb up from beneath the lip of the cork until it slides smoothly out of the bottle. Keep your grip on the cork, and “catch it” so that it doesn’t fly away. Try to do it so gently that the cork doesn’t make a popping sound.
- Popping dramatically: Use your thumb to push the cork out from beneath the lip. Shake the bottle to stir up the carbonation, if you want a bit of a mess and a lot of added effect. Aim the bottle away from yourself, your friends, and any breakable items in the near vicinity. Avoid trying this method until you’re comfortable opening a champagne bottle gently!
EditFollowing Champagne Etiquette
- Chill the bottle before opening. Store in the refrigerator, a cooler, or an ice bucket. Give it at least a few hours to ensure that the contents are completely chilled. Not only will this improve the taste, but it will make the bottle less likely to spray champagne everywhere.
- Open carefully in formal settings. Keep a firm grip on the cork so that it doesn’t fly away unexpectedly. Slowly twist the bottle—not the cork—until the cork is almost out of the bottle. Listen for the almost inaudible “sigh” of the cork coming loose. Then, pull it out delicately using entire palm of your hand. Hold the cork over the opened bottle for a few seconds to make sure that the foam doesn’t bubble over.
- If you are serving champagne as a waiter or a caterer, it is usually considered proper etiquette to open the bottle as unobtrusively as possible. Do not spray, and do not let the cork fly. Practice until you can do it without so much as a “pop.”
- Avoid shaking the bottle. Champagne is a carbonated beverage stored under pressure. When you shake the bottle, you build up that pressure to dangerous levels. Opening a highly-pressurized champagne bottle will unleash a mighty spout of champagne and send the cork flying forward at high velocity.
- If you do accidentally shake the bottle, let it sit still for an hour or two so that the contents have time to settle. The CO2 will absorb back into the drink more quickly if the champagne is cold.
- Pour slowly. Champagne is carbonated, and the bubbly liquid rises quickly when poured into a glass. Don’t spill and waste champagne – especially if you are serving someone else!
- Hold the glass upright. Do not slant it to pour.
- Fill a third of each glass with champagne. Then, top up the servings once you’ve poured a bit for everybody.
- Do not touch the spout onto the rim of anyone’s glass. Champagne is often stored in cellars, and in some circles it is considered poor etiquette to risk dirtying someone’s glass.
- The less sound the better. Ideally, a small hiss is all you’ll hear. This means your wine was adequately chilled, and that you are not risking your precious beverage overflowing all over the ground!
- Do not let go of the body of the bottle as the cork is coming out. The bottle can shoot off towards the ground and break.
- Do NOT attempt to open a bottle which is not completely chilled. A warm or room-temperature bottle is more likely to pop and spray all over the place. Make sure you chill your champagne bottle before opening it.
- Do not let go of the cork as you pull it out. It can shoot out at high velocity. If the cork is aimed in the wrong direction, it might break a valuable object or seriously hurt somebody. Do not point the bottle at yourself or others while opening.
- Do not pry the cork or use a corkscrew to open the bottle.
EditThings You’ll Need
- Chilled champagne
- Kitchen towel
- Champagne glasses
EditSources and Citations
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