1. Make sure the bottle is chilled2. Use a wine key to cut off the foil below the large lip of the bottle3. Use a napkin or towel4. Untwist the cage counterclockwise, putting pressure on the cork to keep it from popping out prematurely5. Twist the bottle—not the cork6. Once the bottle starts to loosen from the cork and is able to spin freely, begin to slowly pull the cork away from the bottle7. Now that the pressure of the bottle is driving the cork out, you can control how quickly the cork separates itself from the bottle9. Once the cork is removed, give the lip of the bottle a quick wipe and then serve it
No need to scream "duck" as you wrench out the cork. Jack Mason, a master sommelier at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse (opens in new tab) in Texas, walks us through the proper method for opening a bottle of bubbly.
The bottle of champagne or sparkling wine should be properly chilled to around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. If it isn't cold enough, the pressure inside the bottle will cause the cork to release very quickly. That's when you get a geyser and a dangerous projectile.
Pro Tip: For a quick way to cool down your bottle (and to keep cold bottles very cold), use a mixture of 50 percent ice and 50 percent water. That liquid mixture means more of the surface area of the bottle is being cooled.
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Although all sparkling wines have a tab to help open the bottle, most of the time the tab fails to make its way around the bottle leaving an ugly mess of excess foil. Cutting the foil creates an even, clean line around the bottle so that once the foil is removed, the cork and cage are exposed.
Pro Tip: If the wine was in an ice bath, ensure the bottle is dried off so the bottle doesn't sleep out of your hands.
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Fold a napkin or kitchen towel lengthwise and put it over the cage and the cork. This creates another measure safety that can help prevent the cork from flying off like a bullet.
Safety is paramount when opening sparkling wine since the pressure behind the cork is around 90 psi. To put this into perspective, that's three times the pressure of most car tires.
It's best to hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle. Untwist the "O" six times and then loosen the cage all the way around the bottle.
Once the cage is loosened, begin to extract the cork by keeping pressure around the cork and twisting the bottle. If you twist the cork, it can break inside the bottle.
Do this until the pressure in the bottle begins to push the cork out naturally. Once you feel the cork begin to move on its own, push against the cork gentle to keep it from releasing too quickly.
The slower the cork separates itself from the bottle, the more gentle the hiss that will occur. People are always wowed when a bottle of sparkling wine is opened with barely a blip—aim for that.
Use your favorite glasses—white wine glasses—not flutes (opens in new tab)—actually work best.
Buy Now (opens in new tab) Riedel Veritas Champagne Wine Glass, Set of Two, $44.32
Sam Dangremond is a Contributing Digital Editor at Town & Country, where he covers men's style, cocktails, travel, and the social scene.
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