There is nothing more embarrassing than making a big show of bringing a champagne bottle into a party, then revealing that you have literally no clue how to open champagne without exploding. You’re standing there in the center of a crowd, with absolutely zero idea about how to do this, and you decide to just yank it off and hope for the best. Cue half of the champagne bottle ending up on the carpet, and at least one person in the emergency room, because those flying corks are basically nuclear missiles.
Opening up a bottle of champagne is an acquired and potentially intimidating skill, but once you’ve tried it a few times, it becomes as easy and natural as opening a bottle of beer.
The first thing to know about opening a champagne bottle is that you should loosen the cage of the bottle before yanking the cork off and sending bubbles flying. But, you’re not going to take it off entirely.
Some suggest rotating the cage tab by about six half-turns. Overall, you should loosen the cage enough so that it’s able to come easily off of the bottle. But instead of actually taking the cage off altogether, you keep your hands holding both the cork and the cage intact, so that the pressure from the champagne doesn’t send the cork flying through the air.
There’s three times more pressure inside of champagne bottles than in car tires.
This is because of the fermentation process involved in making the bubbly bev: Since the champagne bottles are sealed for fermentation, the bubbles are created in an enclosed area and can’t escape as a gas, therefore dissolving into the wine to create a buildup of pressure against the cork. This is why a cork can often go flying, reaching speeds just under 25 miles an hour immediately after the uncorking process.
Anyway, with those fun facts in mind, once you’ve loosened the cage of the bottle, you should hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle and rotate the of the bottle. You’re actually keeping the cork still, moving only the bottle. The cage should come off at the same time the cork does, and you should be able to feel the cork start to push out with the pressure.
Don’t freak out if you feel the pressure pushing the cork out of the champagne bottle.
It should just create a small and a fizzing noise if you’ve slowly pulled the cork out.
Once the cork has popped off, it’ll help to keep the bottle at a 45-degree angle for a few seconds, just to ensure that there’s no spillage, and voila! You have officially uncorked a champagne bottle without any eye-gouging or screaming.
If you’re still a little nervous about the champagne pop, the easiest solution is to cover the hand that’s holding the cork in place with a dishtowel. That way, when the cork pops off, you can guarantee it won’t go flying.
Once you actually get around to pouring champagne into individual flutes, remember to pour slowly, as the bubbles will rise quickly and foam up the flute for a few seconds, in the same way soda would.
In fact, there are over one million bubbles in a standard champagne flute.
And the more carefully you pour, the more bubbles you’ll preserve, making the champagne even champagne-ier. And just like that, you’ve become a bottle-popping, champagne-pouring connoisseur that all of your friends will look to for every bottle that must be opened in the future.
Now, go forth and open without fear, pour confidently, and sip responsibly. Cheers, and happy new year!