Take center stage after performing a trick with Champagne. (Photo: annebel146, stock.adobe.com)

Whether it's a special occasion like a birthday, wedding, or New Year's Eve, popping Champagne corks is the perfect way to celebrate. As you hold that bottle of effervescent delight and prepare to open it, you suddenly find yourself in the spotlight.

Whether you choose to saber the bottle or go for a traditional pop, all eyes are on you, with cameras ready to capture the moment. It's your time to dazzle. But how do you ensure that your cork popping is as memorable as the occasion itself?

Here's our quick and stylish guide to getting it just right.

The Basics

The secret to a successful pop lies in choosing the right type of sparkling wine. Opt for traditionally fermented options like Champagne, Methode Cap Classique (MCC), Cava or US-Sparkling wine. The traditional fermentation is key, as it builds up the essential pressure inside the bottle for that satisfying pop.

Wines with lower pressure might not deliver the dramatic effect you're hoping for. So, before you jump into the celebration, make sure to familiarize yourself with the safety guidelines we've outlined below. This way, you can ensure that your special occasion is not just memorable, but also safe and enjoyable for everyone.

The Classic Approach

  • Avoid Shaking Indoors: Make sure the wine hasn't been shaken, especially when indoors, to avoid spills. For an outdoor celebration, a good shake can add to the fun with a fountain effect.
  • Remove the Tin Foil: Start by peeling off the foil that covers the bottle top.
  • Open the Agraffe: Carefully unwind the agraffe, the metal cage, by twisting it six times.
  • Clear the Cork Top: Ensure the top of the cork is free from any obstructions.
  • Secure the Cork: Once the cage is off, keep your thumb over the cork to prevent it from popping prematurely.
  • Be Mindful of Surroundings: Check that the bottle is not pointed at anyone.
  • Thumb Placement: Gently place your thumb under the lip of the bottle.
  • Ease the Cork Out: Carefully remove the cork with your thumb from the bottle’s neck, allowing it to pop joyfully.
  • Control the Flow: Hold your thumb over the bottle opening, leaving a small gap for the wine to escape.
  • Now, it's time to enjoy and celebrate the moment!


Sabers make epic pictures. (Photo: Daniel, stock.adobe.com)

Use a Saber

Have you ever seen the exhilarating display of a Champagne bottle being opened with a saber? This technique, known as sabrage, has gained popularity on social media, often performed by a sommelier with a saber in hand.

The spectacle is truly theatrical: the cork flies through the air, followed by a majestic burst of wine, leaving the sommelier triumphantly holding the saber – a moment perfect for capturing in a photo.

Contrary to what you might think, mastering the art of sabering champagne, a feat both impressive and risky, is easier than it looks. Here is how to saber like a pro:

  • Remove Foil and Agraffe: Take off the foil and unwind the agraffe from the bottle.
  • Secure the Cork: Keep your thumb on the cork to prevent any premature popping.
  • Avoid Directing at People: Be cautious and ensure the bottle is not pointed towards anyone.
  • Find the Seam: Rotate the bottle to locate the seam of the glass, which is the long horizontal line along the bottle.
  • Follow the Seam: Adhere closely to this seam, as it is the weakest point of the bottle and straying can cause an explosion.
  • Position the Saber: Place the saber below the neck of the bottle, aligning it with the seam.
  • Execute the Sabrage: In a smooth motion, slide the saber along the seam, hitting the neck of the bottle sharply.
  • Celebrate the Burst: Watch the Champagne burst out and be ready to strike a pose for an unforgettable photo.

Alternatives to Knifes

Remember, a traditional saber isn't necessary. You can use other strong objects to hit the bottle's neck along the seam. Options include a sturdy wine glass, a table knife (use caution), ceremonial daggers or custom swords, a wrench, a screwdriver, or even the robust Nokia 3310.

Prioritize Safety

While sabrage is a show-stopping trick, always prioritize safety. Read all safety instructions and practice the technique in a safe environment before attempting it at your special occasion.

Keeping your thumb on top of the cork is critical to avoid it flying uncontrollably. (Photo: eliosdnepr, stock.adobe.com)

Opening the Bubblies in quick succession

In moments when a loud pop isn't ideal, or to avoid any messy overflows, here's a quick, professional, and silent way to open a bottle of Champagne:

  • Peel off the Foil: Start by carefully removing the foil from the top of the bottle.
  • Loosen the Agraffe: Gently twist the wire cage, known as the agraffe, six times to loosen it.
  • Secure the Cork: Place your thumb over the cork, holding the top of the bottle securely.
  • Check the Bottle’s Direction: Ensure the bottle is not pointed at anyone.
  • Stabilize the Bottle: Use your other hand to grip the bottom of the bottle.
  • Tilt at a 45-Degree Angle: This helps in controlling the pressure release.
  • Turn the Bottle: While maintaining a firm hold on the cork, gently rotate the bottle – not the cork.
  • Gently Loosen the Cork: Keep the bottle tilted at 45 degrees while easing the cork out.
  • After Removing the Cork: Continue to hold the bottle at an angle to prevent the Champagne from gushing.
  • Pour and Enjoy: Now, serve the Champagne quietly and with elegance.

Safety Guidelines

It's essential to observe safety precautions when opening Champagne:

  • Avoid Pointing at People: Never direct the bottle towards anyone. The pressure in a Champagne bottle is significant, around double as a car type, and flying corks can cause serious injuries, such as loss of eyesight.
  • Hold at a 45-Degree Angle: Always hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle to control the cork’s direction and reduce the risk of accidental popping.
  • Thumb Over the Cork: Keep your thumb securely over the cork while loosening the agraffe to maintain control.
  • Caution with Sabering: If using a saber or similar tool, be cautious. The pressure in the bottle typically removes glass shards, but there's still a risk of small particles ending up in the wine, which can be dangerous. Always follow the seam of the bottle, as it's the weakest part.
  • Educate Your Friends: If a friend wants to try popping a bottle, share your knowledge with them. They might just take the center stage at the next special occasion!

As we gear up for those special occasions that mark our lives – whether it's a birthday, a wedding, or the much-awaited New Year's Eve – opening bottles in style becomes the highlight of the party.

May your special moments be filled with the sound of laughter, the clinking of glasses, and the perfect opening of a bottle of sparkling wine.

Peter Douglas

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