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How to open a bottle of Champagne

· Wine Culture
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Did you know that the pressure in a bottle of Champagne is three times the pressure in your car’s tires ? For that reason, one needs to be extra careful when opening a bottle. Follow this guide to learn how to open a bottle of Champagne, or any other bottle of sparkling wine, like a professional sommelier !

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That gentleman should better have read our guide before scheduling his date !

Serve it extra cold

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Don't forget to add water in addition to ice in the bucket to chill the bottle quicker

Champagne has to be served at a temperature around 6-8°C. This is not only important to fully enjoy its taste and freshness, but also to avoid a mousse explosion when opening the bottle - which can happen if the bottle is too warm.

This temperature can be achieved by placing the unopened bottle in an ice bucket — one-half ice and one-half water — for 20 to 30 minutes. Or, you may refrigerate it for 3 to 4 hours.

Chose the proper glassware

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The champagne coupe, while very popular in the past, was never designed for drinking Champagne. Its shape does not leave enough space for the bubbles which will evaporate very quickly. Furthermore, you will not fully appreciate the wine’s flavours.

Instead, Champagne should be served in long-stemmed flutes or tulip shaped glasses. These are designed to enhance the flow of bubbles to the top and to concentrate the aromas of the wine. An ordinary, wider glass such as the ones for white wine glasses are also another appropriate choice.

Remove the foil

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The first step when opening a Champagne bottle will be to remove the foil from the top the bottle. Most bottles will have a small tab or cut out making the foil come off in one piece.

Note : You may also use your corkscrew’s small blade to cut around the foil, as if you were opening a bottle of still wine.

Loosen the wire cage, don't remove it

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You may use a towel to prevent injury or wine spillage upon opening

The next step will be to loosen the wire cage (called « muselet » in French). Place your thumb on top of the cork to prevent it from popping out. With your other hand, flip down the small wire key and turn 6 times to unwind the wires.

Twist the bottle, not the cork

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Now that the cage is loose, the cork is ready to removed. Hold the cork firmly with one hand and hold the base of the bottle with the other. Point the head of the bottle in a safe direction away from people (45° angle).

Gently twist the bottle – not the cork – until you feel the cork is about to go out. If this is done properly, you should hear a soft « pschiiit » instead of a loud « POP ».

Don’t be frustrated ! This « pschit » noise will better preserve the gas inside the bottle and is the proof that you know how to open champagne the fancy way, without spilling a single drop.

Pour the Champagne

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To prevent the wine from spilling over, pour the champagne halfway into the glass first, wait for the bubbles to subside, then pour again to the top. Store your bottle back into the ice bucket to keep chilled.

« Sabrer » a bottle of Champagne

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This French tradition started with Napoleon’s soldiers, who had the habit of using their saber sword to open a bottle of Champagne after winning a battle

Tear away completely the paper around the neck of the bottle

Losen the cage

Run your blade flat along the seam, not too quickly

Strike the lower lip of the bottleneck with the blade. The neck of the bottle should come off in one clean swoop.

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Note : This requires a lot of practice before you can impress your friends.

Now it’s time to toast with your guests – and don’t forget to always look at them in the eye while doing so ! Santé !

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