If you’ve ever shied away from opening a bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine and passed it on to someone else, I feel you – I’ve been there. There’s a lot of pressure – literally – to not have the cork fly out and spray foam everywhere, wasting delicious, valuable bubbly – or worse, fly into someone’s beautiful face. But I’m going to show you how easy it is to do it correctly, and before long, you’re going to be that person that gets the bottle passed to them to be opened. I apologize for your blisters in advance.
We begin with the full video how-to demonstration:
Looks easy-peasy, right? It’s all a matter of following a few simple steps:
Step 1: Make sure your Champagne or sparkling wine is chilled, and your glasses are ready. For this demonstration, I went with a classic non-vintage (meaning the bottle is not from one particular year, but rather a blend of wines from different harvests). Ruinart is one of the better-known Champagne houses, and their bubbly is consistently delicate, with hints of golden apple and brioche.
Step 2: Remove the foil – there is usually a handy tab you can pull on. Try not to be incredibly impressed by my fantastic ‘manicure’.
Step 3: Slowly twist off the ‘cage’. The reason you should do it slowly is because some bottles may have cages where the metal has ‘dried out’ or become fragile and damaged, so if you rotate the little metal loop too quickly, it can break off – making your ultimate task that much more difficult.
Step 4: Loosen the cage slightly, but do not remove it. In the event that pressure has built up in the bottle (if you’re like my mother, and let a bottle of champagne roll around loosely in the trunk), the cage will keep the cork from unexpectedly flying out.
Step 5: Place your hand firmly on the cork, pressing down with your palm. After you’ve loosened the cage, your hand should be on the cork at all times. Hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle and point away from your guests or that priceless Vermeer on your wall. Just in case.
Step 6: While holding the cork firmly, begin twisting the bottle. With your other hand, hold the base on the bottle and slowly turn it clockwise. The reason your twist the bottle instead of the cork is because it gives you more control over releasing the built-up pressure.
Step 7: Control the pressure of the cork. You will feel it pushing up against your hand as you turn the bottle, but you don’t want to release it too quickly, because that will result in the much-dreaded spillage. If you release it slowly and gradually, the cork will come out with nothing more than a gentle ‘hissssss’. In the video, you’ll notice that the cork comes out with a “POP!” – and that is something you can control as well. I personally prefer to pop the cork, because that sound is universal for celebration, and is generally followed by a collective “yaaaayyyy”. But there is also a distinguished elegance in opening a bottle quietly. Once you get a feel for the cork in your hand, you can decide how showy you want to be. And of course, the best way to become good at anything – practice!! You’ll just have to find occasions to drink champagne – you know, like Tuesday at 7:14pm (because drinking champagne is occasion enough! It’s delicious!)
BONUS: When you go to pour the champagne, tilt the glass 45 degrees, and pour the champagne not right into the bottom of the glass, but along the side – that way you will avoid a massive buildup of foam and won’t have to pause pouring. And everyone won’t be crowding you, pacing impatiently, waiting for you to fill up their glass.
There are other videos on how to do this properly, with some steps varying to some degree – however, the way I have outlined for you in the one that sommeliers and wine professionals tend to swear by. I have included more details than most, because I want you, dear Wine Lover, to be as informed and prepared as possible.
Some websites actually do a few steps wrong, so, as with anything on the web, make sure your source really knows what they’re doing.
Hopefully you found this helpful, and if there is anything I’ve missed or can improve upon, please let me know!
*Please always drink responsibly, and if you do drink, don’t drive – take a taxi, call an Uber/Lyft, or call a sober friend or family member for a ride.*