Sabre à Champagne Selection

The preparation:

First the bottle "MUST" be cold.
In the fridge for at least 6 hour prior opening.
Or at least 1 hour in the freezer if you are in a hurry (but the freezer will damage the taste of the champagne).
It is the pressure and the vibration that will "cut" the glass. A warm bottle has more pressure, which makes the opening trickier and less forgiving. As much less strength will be required.

Another temperature advice: If placed in an iced bucket, most of the bottle cools down, "Except" the important part which is the neck. It is important to have the bottle completely cold (including the neck).

When handling the bottle, it is recommended to "not hold it by the neck" (because the hand will warm it).

Since we don't need additional pressure, do not shake the bottle. The bottle should always be handle nicely. If it has been shaken, during transportation, the bottle must rest for several hours in a fridge. When there is a large crowd, the vibrations and temperature tends to rise. If the bottles are in big buckets, it is very important to keep adding ice.

Where to open the bottle.
People should never stand in front of it. Keep in mind, as you probably saw in France that the corks can fly/roll up to 30 feet (10 meters). I have opened more often inside buildings (jewelry store, museums, private houses, etc. but for starter I recommend opening outside (garden, driveway, etc...)

Hold the bottle with a cloth. Why?. Sometime the bottle may explode for various reasons: unknowingly warm or shaken bottles, default in the glass, etc. It happens to me every 200 bottles. Holding it with a cloth will help protecting the hand, while it also looks more elegant. I have cut myself several times, and know it will happen again. My Japanese customers often use heavy rubber gloves, which is a very safe idea.

I do not want to discriminate against some producers, but based on my experience, some bottles don't open very well.

The "Chandon" from California is tricky. I believe the glass is too fine. The Roederer Estate "Hermitage" doesn't give good results. Somehow the glass breaks little by little. (Other Roederer Estate bottles have been opened fine so far).
Please avoid "plastic" cork, even though I have been asked to saber some, and it works.
Korbel has a thick glass and opens well.
All true Champagne bottles (from France) are fine.
Cremant, Blanc de Blanc, Blan de Noire, Asti Spumante, Cava, will open fine as well despite having different pressure, so go gentlier.

The opening:

One should keep in mind; it is not a matter of "Strength".
It is a matter of "Vibration" and finesse.
It is not the force of the blade against the bottle that will open it, it is the vibration created by the blade against the bottle.

Once ready to open, it is easier to remove the wrapping and the metallic wire/cage around the cork. (note: I have open many bottles with the cage on).

If you want to follow the tradition, you will use the “back” side of the blade. At the time of Napoleon, they fight with their sabers, so did not want to use the sharp side. Since the Champagne Saber are not sharp, you can use either side.

People firmly hold the bottle at the bottom (with a cloth), and "gently" but "firmly" slide the "back" of the blade against de bottle, from the bottom to the top of the neck a few times to build vibration.

It is slightly better to slide the saber against one of the line/seam on the glass (smaller bottle have 2, larger ones 5).

Then when ready to open, follow through.

When the saber reaches the cork portion, it will cut the glass.

You will be surprised by the little strength required to open champagne. It is better to go too weak, because you can retry, rather than too strong and risk the bottle to explode.

If done properly, it will be a "clean" cut. You will be able to judge how skilled someone is by looking on "how straight" is the cut glass. If it is perfectly straight, it is excellent. If it is inclined, it means the person is using strength to open, and should slow down. The more inclined, the more strength, until the bottle explodes completely.

No more than the equivalent of 1/2 glass should leave the bottle, often none is properly cool. A bottle that has a lot of Champagne spilling was too warm.

Be smart, be prudent & responsible. It is not because people have been opening Champagne bottle this way for 200 years, that anyone can do it.



The Only way, to Celebrate Champagne


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