Ah, New Year’s — a day we celebrate just for the mere reason of celebration. Where opening Champagne is a requirement, not an option, because who doesn’t want the bubbly to endlessly flow for hours on end? Who can resist the citrus-y, brioch-y, tree fruit-y, berry-licious, frothy nectar we are so fortunate to have grace our palates?
This particular paging of the calendar is a bit extra special, yes, a new decade is upon us. The 20s of the 21st century! Will they be their own form of roaring? Will they indulge us in prosperous times? Will flapper attire make a resurgence? Who knows, we’ll just have to wait and see where the months go. But as with any year on December 31, it’s a reason to gather, laugh, sip Champagne and dance until you’ve had your shoes off for at least 2 hours (who wants to dance in fancy footwear all night anyway).
So as we gear up to party into the wee hours of the morning, there is some important business we must address with you first and that is opening Champagne properly. When it comes to vessels with pressure ranging from 4-6 atmospheres (think double the pressure in your car’s tires, or in other words, it’s A LOT of pressure), it’s necessary to take care and avoid injury, hence this handy guide to get you sipping bubbles and nibbling canapés stat. We also just don’t want to see you turned into a meme like these epic fails around the internet:
Ok, so the proper steps to opening Champagne are as follows:
1. Procure a bottle of Champagne, or sparkling wine (Cava, Prosecco, Cremant, Asti, American Sparkling, what have you), properly corked (none of that plastic enclosure nonsense, it’s time to celebrate after all, splurge a little bit!).
2. Chill this precious liquid in a refrigerator until it’s about 46-49˚F or has been resting in its frigid chamber for about 3 hours. You can also quick chill it for 30 minutes in an ice bath.
3. Prepare the glassware, make sure it’s clean, free of soap residue, otherwise you’ll see some sad bubbles.
- Side Note #1: The glassware is up to you. Flutes are perfectly acceptable and keep the bubbles flowing consistently, as do tulip glasses, but using a regular wine glass is of course fine as well, in fact, you get more aromatics off it. And while the coupes modeled after Marie Antoinette’s bosom are somewhat charming, they’re highly impractical and a waste of time, so save those for some chi-chi dessert you want to whip up with a custard and berries.
4. After your bubbly is chilled, remove the foil and loosen the cage.
- REMEMBER: Always keep a hand secured over the cork as to avoid any disasters (see above).
5. Some folks like to open the bubbles with the cage on and others cage off, it’s really personal preference on what feels comfortable, but the important thing is to keep a hand secured over the cork and/or loosened cage so it doesn’t go flying into someone’s face.
- Side Note #2: Always, always, ALWAYS, point the cork away from people and anything you may not want involved in an accident (think fragile China cabinet with Grandmother’s heirloom vases from the 1800s).
6. Ok, you ready to open this guy?! With one hand secured around the cork, use your other hand to twist the bottle (NOT the cork). After a few turns, you’ll feel the cork start to loosen. Gradually keep turning the bottle until you can wiggle the cork ever so slightly to release air. It should sound like a light hiss, some call it a Frenchman’s toot (who’s been that close to a Frenchman’s bottom is another thing).
- Side Note #3: Yes, we know, the loud pop when opening a bottle of bubbly is very satisfying, invigorating and celebratory! Everyone cheers! You feel like you just won a gold medal at the Olympics! But, if you want to save as much juice in the bottle as possible, go with the Frenchman’s toot route, you’ll thank us later when you’re not mopping the floor of $80+ Champagne.
7. With the bottle open, take one of your readied stems, angled at a 45˚ angle, and pour. Divvy up the wine amongst those enjoying it with you.
- Side Note #4: If your party is small, don’t over pour, you can always top off later. If your party is large, err on the side of caution so you can evenly share the bubbz…or just have a few extra bottles chilled and ready to go (who doesn’t want more Champagne anyway?).
There you have it! The proper way of opening Champagne. Share this with your friends (below), so they too can be professional bubbly openers.
And if you want to up your game, check out our article on how to correctly saber a bottle.
Head over to First Bottle Wines to shop some of our favorite sparklings.