Technique

How To Saber Champagne

Because you've always wanted to drink like a victorious French soldier, right?

We’re going to start this one off with a critical warning: Don’t try this at home. Seriously. We know you want to impress your friends, but sabering a bottle of champagne is pretty dangerous if it goes wrong. Three words: “Flying broken glass.” With that out of the way, let’s move on to the fun stuff.

You’ve got a bottle of bubbly, and you want to open it with a certain degree of panache. And while the resounding “pop” of a newly freed cork is satisfying and all, this is the sort of situation that calls for something more. So why not make like Napoleon’s soldiers did on the field of victory and open the damn thing with a sword?

Of course, you probably don’t have a sword handy, so just reach for a heavy chef’s knife. The blunt side should be squared-off, as you need a well-defined edge on it to properly execute this technique. Once you’ve got that, grab your champagne—it should be chilled to less than 40°F—and remove the foil from the top, keeping the wire cage on, lest the cork pop out accidentally.

Now look for the seams that run up either side of the bottle, and identify the more prominent one. That’s what you’ll be following with the blunt edge of the knife, all the way up to where the top lip meets the rest of the bottle. Sabering takes advantage of the structural instability where those two seams meet. Hit that edge with some force, and you break the top cleanly off. Which is what you’re about to do, but you should really step outside first.

Once you can see sky, make sure the bottle is facing away from anything living or breakable, then give it a couple of practice runs with a light touch. Ready for the real thing? Good. Line up, bring the knife firmly up the side seam, and follow right on through when you hit that lip. The top of the bottle will crack right off, the champagne will bubble over dramatically, and you’ll better understand the thrill of victory—or at least the satisfaction of a well-earned drink.

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