How to Open Champagne Without Any Drama (or Injuries)
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I’m always scared of opening a bottle of bubbly like a damn fool, but mostly I’m nervous that either the cork will come flying off and break something or hurt someone, or that the Champagne will come pouring out of the bottle. (Or, in a doomsday scenario, that the whole bottle will fly straight out of my hands.) And what if the cork breaks and pieces of it fall into the wine? How can I pop a bottle like a pro?
Dear Champagne Shy,
While we certainly love the spectacle of sending a cork flying across the room and showering everyone in fizzy booze, there’s an easier, cleaner and safer way to open a bottle of bubbly. The best part? You don’t have to actually be a wine pro to learn how to open Champagne like a pro. Here’s how to do it in four easy steps.
How to Open Champagne
Step 1: Remove the foil wrapper from the bottle
Most (but not all) sparkling wines are corked the same way, with a foil wrapper covering a wire cage that secures the cork. Before you get any further, you’ll want to remove that foil wrapper and discard it, exposing the cage. Sometimes, the wrapper has a tab for easy removal, but you can also use a wine key.
Step 2: Loosen the cage (but don’t remove it)
The wire cage housing the cork should have a small tab, or key, close to the neck of the wine bottle. Find it, then rotate it counterclockwise until the cage feels loose around the cork—but don’t take it off completely. (The cage keeps the cork from flying out of the bottle and potentially injuring you or your thirsty guests.)
Step 3: Start to *slowly* remove the cork
Hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle with one hand securing the cage firmly against the cork. Begin to slowly rotate the base of the bottle (and not the cork) until it starts to loosen. Rotating the base instead of the cork might seem clumsy or counterintuitive, but it gives you more control over the cork (as opposed to letting it pop out of the bottle and clear across your kitchen).
Step 4: Continue rotating the bottle and holding the cork until the bottle opens
With the bottle still at a 45-degree angle, continue to slowly and carefully rotate the base while simultaneously applying increasing pressure to the cork and cage with your other hand. The cork should slowly push out with a fsssssz until it removes easily with a subtle pop! Et voilà, you just opened a bottle of Champagne like a seasoned professional—no spills to cleanup or injuries to tend to, either. Grab a few flutes, pour a glass and raise a toast.
3 Tips for Opening Champagne:
- Make sure the bottle is really cold. Before you even attempt to open that bottle, you’ll want to make sure it’s very cold—about 45°F. Sure, sparkling wine generally tastes better when served colder, but this will also prevent that precious vino from foaming up and spilling oven the bottle when you open it. (Science lesson: Warmer carbonated liquid foams up more than cold because it can’t contain as much dissolved gas.)
- Use a towel for extra protection. The wire cage is designed to prevent the cork from violently flying out of the bottle, but it’s not entirely foolproof. To ensure you won’t break a window or someone’s nose, you can drape a dish towel oven the bottle and hold it over the opening. It will give you a better grip and catch the cork once it pops.
- Aim the bottle in the right direction. Even with sound instructions, accidents do happen. You should never aim the Champagne bottle at a person (including yourself) or anything valuable.
Hope that helps! (Oh, and cheers!)
Food Editor, PureWow