How to Open a Bottle of Champagne
If you're going to serve the good stuff, here's how to do it right.
'Tis the season to pop bottles, but do you know the proper technique for uncorking a bottle of bubbly? Between etiquette and safety concerns, serving Champagne requires a more sophisticated strategy than the one you employ when opening your reliable grocery-store screw-top. Amelie Derrieux-Sable of Champagne Henriot shares her best tips to help you get the party started.
The secret to smooth Champagne serving starts before guests arrive. "Make sure the bottle is chilled to around 45 degrees Fahrenheit," says Derrieux-Sable. "If it isn't cold enough, the pressure inside the bottle will cause the cork to release very quickly." This could result in a messy spray—think less black-tie affair, more Super Bowl victory party.
Foil Your Plans
In order to more easily access the cork, you'll need to remove the foil above the large lip of the bottle, but not the foil around the neck. "That's the French etiquette!" says Derrieux-Sable. And if it's good enough for the French—who, after all, invented Champagne—it's good enough for us.
Do the Twist
Untwist the cage counterclockwise, which should take six turns. "Make sure you hold the cork with your thumb to prevent it from popping prematurely," advises Derrieux-Sable. Then angle the bottle away from your fellow partygoers, squeeze the cork firmly, and twist the bottle at a 45 degree angle. Always twist the bottle—not the cork—to maintain control and reduce the risk of taking out one of your guests.
Take It Slow
Let the pressure release slowly before you pull the cork away (with a festive flourish, for maximum effect). Be sure to pour slowly, too, to prevent any overflow. While Champagne flutes may look festive, "White wine glasses are best!" says Derrieux-Sable, since they allow for more aromas to be released, resulting in a more robust flavor. A votre santé!