New Year’s Eve is upon us, an occasion which for most is synonymous with popping Champagne corks. We’re all for the occasion here at Drink Me and we want to help you make things a bit more ceremonious – so it’s my pleasure to share this guide on how to Sabre Champagne. In case you didn’t know, it’s an alternative technique for opening Champagne – it is surely the coolest way to let the cork fly!
Whilst there are different claims to the origin of technique, the one I like the most dates back to Napoleon (a well-document Champagne lover) and his cavalry (who carried Sabre’s) who would celebrate their battle victories by the grand gesture of beheading bottles of fizz to drink.
So see below my 10 Do’s and Don’t’s. It’s not difficult once you know how. If you follow these steps you will be the star of the party this New Year’s Eve!
#1) Don’t ever do it unless it’s Champagne!
Two critical reasons… 1) Champagne is much fizzier than other sparkling wine. The average Champagne bottle has c100 psi vs c40 psi in Prosecco, for example. And it’s actually the pressure that breaks the bottle. 2) The glass used to produce Champagne bottles is also thicker than other sparkling wine, and therefore will snap and not shatter. I can see the draw of trying it on a cheap bottle in case it goes wrong, but I would say bite the bullet and just do it – following the other tips below, of course!
#2) Do discard the foil
Any bit of foil/labelling anywhere around the neck of the bottle needs to go. You need a nice, bare, smooth surface to slide your weapon over.
#3) Don’t discard the cage
Straight off the shelf the cage – the wire protector holding the cork in place – will be fastened to the bottom of the lip and directly on the sweet spot (more on this later). This cage needs to be loosened a little, then move up to the next lip and refastened. This will catch the cork should it decide to fly before you want it to.
#4) Do get the bottle very cold
The temperature of the bottle is very important. Thinking scientifically – a really cold bit of glass is contracted and will snap more easily/cleanly when under pressure. I would strongly advise chilling the bottle for a few hours in a cold fridge, then putting the bottle upside down in an ice bucket for 10 minutes to get the neck nice and cold.
#5) Do find the sweet spot
Perhaps the single most important part of the guide, so listen up carefully… You’re looking for the seam of the bottle where the glass has been joined. It runs the length of the bottle from the base to the lip. Every bottle has one. Some bottles have two. Move up from the seam to the bottom/underside of the first lip. The point where the seam and the lip meet is the sweet spot. This is weakest part of the bottle, and this is what to aim for.
#6) Don’t strike the bottle
You’re not a Game of Thrones character looking to behead someone with a single blow. There is no need for a striking/chopping action – if you try to, you’re liable for an epic fail. What you’re looking for is a sliding motion along the seam up to the sweet spot. If the knife leaves the surface of the bottle, then you’re doing it wrong. Do a few practice slides to get ready for the big one.
#7) DO IT
You’re ready to go. Hold the bottle at a 45 degree angle, point away from people, stay on that seam, keep the knife on the bottle, take a deep breath and take a confident, forceful swipe, be sure to follow through with conviction, watch the cork fly through the air with it’s beautiful green necklace attached, then stand there magnanimously as if it was never in doubt.
#8) Don’t feel like you need a big knife/sword.
Providing you hit the sweet spot you don’t need anything sharp. I’ve seen it done with a butter knife, a tea spoon and remarkably the base of a champagne flute! All you need is the technique and conviction.