Opening a Bottle
is not intended to be opened just for special toasts and important
occasions. The bubbly refresher complements any meal from brunch
to a midnight snack. It is a real treat just sipped by itself
especially when relaxing with a few good friends. A good champagne
can make any occasion memorable.
There's no special talent needed to open a bottle of champagne or sparkling
wine without injuring your guests. The secret is chilling the champagne and turning the bottle instead of pulling the cork.
Here's a simple lesson...
Make sure the Champagne is cold
Start off by chilling the bottle. The best serving temperature
is around 45° Fahrenheit, that would be about 7° Celsius.
If you put your hand on the bottle it should feel very cold
not just cool.
A good method
for making sure you get the right temperature is to fill your
ice bucket, or any deep container if you don't have a special
one for wines, and let the bottle sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
Adding just a bit of water to the ice in the bucket will actually
help cool down your bubbly. There's an explanation based on
physics and heat transference, but all you really need to know
is that it works.
to have a chilled liquid. Champagne that is too warm will foam
and spill when you uncork the bottle. You'll lose some of the
bubbly and make a mess. Of course, it also tastes much better
at the right temperature! You don't want to make it too cold
though, or you'll lose some of the flavor of the wine.
Loosen the wire
Once you've gotten the bottle chilled to the right temperature,
get a kitchen towel and dry off the bottle a bit so you can
get a good grip. Hold on to the towel, you'll need it later!
Take the foil off the top of the bottle so that the wire cage
is totally free of foil. There are two schools of thought on
dealing with the wire cage. Some prefer to loosen it and others
go all the way and remove it.
The only danger to removing
the wire protector entirely is that some bottles have enough
pressure built up to have the cork pop when the cage is taken
off. This shouldn't happen, but you may have shaken the bottle
a bit too much while handling it...or if it was not stored in
optimal conditions it may have built up a bit too much pressure
while waiting to be opened. Leaving the wire cage in place will
keep the cork in place until you're ready to remove it.
A special word on safety:
Be especially careful about opening champagne with children close at hand, and always keep them at a safe distance as champagne is about to pop.
One thoughtful reader has also written in to suggest to mind any overhead obstructions - like chandeliers or light fixtures - which may be easily damaged by the force of a flying cork should things go awry!
Now that you've loosened the wire cage that surrounds the cork,
it's time to use that towel you're holding. With the bottle
upright, drape the towel over the top of the bottle. With the
towel there, even if the cork does pop out, it will be caught
in the towel... it also catches any champagne that spills --
if the uncorking ceremony is not perfect.
the Champagne bottle
Lay the thin part of the towel draped bottle in your hand and
get a good grip on the cork. You might want to support the neck
of the bottle and grip the cork with your palm and fingers and
rest your thumb on the cork... just as insurance. You'll hold
on tight to the cork until it is completely removed from the
bottle of champagne.
your free hand get a good grip on the fat part of the bottle.
Slowly turn the bottle while you hold onto the cork... don't
give in to temptation and yank the cork when you feel it loosen.
Just... gently... turn the bottle of sparkling wine or champagne
until you hear a little "pop" -- this method
doesn't make that loud noise that people associate with champagne
on New Year's Eve. The noise comes from the carbon dioxide escaping.
That's the gas that makes the bubbles. A loud pop means that
you've let out too much of the gas - usually with a good bit
of the champagne!
pop you'll hear means that you've preserved the bubbles in your
champagne and you're ready to reveal your handiwork.
magician, whisk the towel away, still holding the cork, and
present your guests with the opened bottle. Be prepared for
may be impressive, the next part is even better.
the Champagne This isn't beer and you don't want a good head on it.
The secret is to pour just a bit, about an ounce or two fingers
worth, of the sparkling wine into the glass. You'll want to
use a tall champagne flute or tulip-shaped glass to get the
Wait for the initial foaming bubbles to subside,
then pour again until about two-thirds of the glass is full.
This method will avoid the mess of the foam spilling over the
sides of the glass. Keep the bottle in the ice bucket whenever
you aren't pouring.
Drink the Champagne
This part you can probably manage without instructions. Just one tip that the cellar masters
at Moët share with visitors touring the winery. Don't hold the glass by the bowl. Use the
stem. It's natural to move your hand up and support the bottom of the bowl where it meets the
stem. This warms the champagne quickly not a good thing!
You can serve the champagne with oysters
and crackers or fruit. Light cheeses are a perfect match. My grandfather's favorite was cutting
up strawberries and adding them to the champagne in the glass. It gives the champagne a fruitier
taste and eating the strawberry pieces is heavenly. Of course, if you intend to make a punch,
mimosas or a fruit concoction, a less expensive brand of champagne is fine. You may even want
to use a sweeter sparkling wine such as an Asti Spumanti. Check out the champagne
cocktail and drink recipes our readers have submitted...
Yes, sabering not savoring... Whether this method comes from the dueling clubs of royal Europe
or thirsty cavaliers without corkscrews it rears its messy head every New Year. Beheading
a bottle of carbonated fluid is never a good idea. It's more than a bit dangerous and difficult
to manage without breakage and wasting lots of fine bubbly. If you really want to give
it a try, You Tube has plenty of videos on the finer points of opening
champagne with a saber (or using a butcher knife, in a pinch).
Wondering about the names of different sizes of champagne
Quarter bottle - Split or Piccolo (187.5 or 200 ml) - You may find these in nightclubs or on a flight. This is the preferred size for a single drink if your are a proper lady living in Europe!
Half bottle - Demi (375 ml) This size is generally reserved for use in restaurants for patrons who want a couple of glasses and hate to waste a drop.
Bottle - Imperial (750 ml) This is the usual champagne bottle you find in most shops.
Magnum (1.5 liter) This size is the equivalent of 2 bottles.
Jeroboam (3 liter) The equivalent of 4 bottles for an impressive hostess gift or a serious party.
Rehoboam (4.5 liter) Equal to 6 bottles, you'd better drink fast or the bubbles will be a fond memory by the time you get to the bottom.
Methuselah (6 liter) 8 bottles fit into this size.
Salmanazar (9 liter) You've entered the realm of the ostentatious here - 12 bottles.
Balthazar (12 liter) 16 bottles.
Nebuchadnezzar (15 liter) 20 bottles.
Melchior (18 liter) 24 bottles.
Solomon (25 liter) 33.3 bottles
Primat (27 liter) 36 bottles.
Melchizedek (30 liter) 40 bottles.
is made for you to enjoy. So invite some friends, open a bottle of any size and have some fun!