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Wine Notes with Mark- How to Properly Open a Bottle of Champagne

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Bentley’s Grill Wine Steward Mark Jacklich is continuing his studies with the Court of Master Sommeliers through 2012. In addition, he plans to spend a lot of time working with Jim Bernau’s team at Willamette Valley Vineyards and learn more about the process from grapes to wine full circle. Mark is eager to share his knowledge with you in an educational series we call: Wine Notes with Mark. Enjoy!

Poppin Bottles is a slang term that relates to the act of taking Champagne bottles, shaking them up, popping them violently and shooting the cork across the room. This is accompanied by a fountain of foam and the danger of a cork traveling around 50mph. While this can look “fun”,  this is not the ideal way to open a champagne bottle. Shaking the bottle causes excessive bubbles, leaving the wine flat. Also, you can lose anywhere from 1/4 to more than 1/2 of the bottle in the foam that shoots out.

There is also a technique called Sabering where you take a large blade and run it up the side of the bottle with force to the lip of the bottle. With the pressure built up in the bottle and the force of the blade to the neck, this creates a grand display with the bottle being decapitated and a portion of champagne spilling out.

To properly open a bottle of champagne,

  • Remove the foil and place your hand over the cage
  • Twist the cage free and loosen it around the neck
  • While still in control of the cage, slowly twist the bottle and pull out the cork (the pressure in bottle will start to help you about half-way through)
  • When it feels as if the cork is ready to shoot, apply pressure back towards the bottle until a small hissing sound is heard.

Though this technique is not as “celebratory”, it sure is safer. It also maintains the appropriate carbonation in the wine and prevents the loss of your precious liquid! Some choose to pull out the cork just fast enough to make a bit of a pop noise but without causing excessive foaming and loss of wine. The choice is yours, but if serving it in an elegant way is your goal, then go slow!