…shake the bottle, …remember and never use a¬†Japanese officer sword to behead¬†a French champagne bottle…


It is easy. All you have to do is to make sure that you hit the bottle just beneath the wire cage. Such hit will send the top flying. The Champagne will be gashing from the bottleneck.




Open the wire cage, remove the foil and wire, then shake the bottle to build up pressure and let it pop. So far so good! Hopefully nobody got hurt and who cares about the spilled wine and bubbles.

Are we having fun yet? Now let us try another approach. Shake the Champagne bottle good with both hands. Then hold it upwards with your left hand at the foot of the bottle. You know the right way: Four fingers in the indent of the bottle’s bottom, the thumb on the outside. Grab a large Bowie knife or a machete. Or reach for your largest kitchen knife if you do not belong to the group of people who have an officer’s sword handy. Remember, never use a Japanese sword on a French Champagne bottle. Swing the knife in your hand over your head and behead the Champagne bottle. It is easy. All you have to do is to make sure that you hit the bottle just beneath the wire cage. Such hit will send the top flying. The Champagne will be gashing from the bottleneck. One word of advice, you better have glasses ready to catch the sparkling bubbling flow.

The before mentioned methods are common practice and are considered by many the macho approach of opening Champagne the right way. However, if you are a coward like me who doesn’t want to hurt anybody with a flying Champagne top, and who doesn’t like to be sued for damages, or if you, like me, have a high respect for the makers of sparkling wines for you know how much effort it takes to get the bubbles into the wine, then you might be interested in the way how I open Champagne without spilling a drop.

This is also the way most professional waiters open sparkling wine. I use a folded towel or napkin, drape it over the bottle top and hold the towel pressed against the bottle’s mid-section with my left hand. The towel is there to catch the cork . The towel also prevents the cork from flying off. With my right hand I open the wire and remove the cage and foil without taking the towel off. For the moment, as I slide the wire-cage over the top, I allow just enough slack in the towel to let such happen. Immediately after the wire is removed I tighten the towel as much as I can over the cork.
The left hand holds the bottle through the towel. With the right I get a good grip on the cork through the tight towel and turn the cork carefully. It usually takes little to loosen the cork, internal pressure will press it against the towel. For stubborn corks one may use Champagne pliers, which I have used once or twice in over thirty years. For this matter any pliers, or nutcrackers like used for lobster claws, fitting over the cork, covered with the restraining towel, will do. The slow and gentle turning of the cork frees it and the pressure from within the bottle will start to push the cork against the tight held towel.
I do not let go of the towel until the cork has slipped out of the bottle quietly with not more than the amount of noise made by opening a soda can. I remove the towel, put the cork in front of the guest for his inspection and proceed to pour him a little taste.
I run at times into corks which do not want to cooperate, which break off at the top. Here again I use the towel to limit the cork’s movement and to restrain it from becoming airborne. Through the towel I insert my corkscrew into the cork. With no problem, no hassle, no danger to anyone’s eyesight, all corks can this way be easily persuaded to give way.
I find sparkling wine should be used for the enjoyment internally instead of, with a loud bang followed by a shower wetting the bystanders, externally. However, if the champagne is part of a wet-t-shirt contest or any similar game, I always remove the wire cage and cork carefully. Than after the bottle is opened I can still shake the bottle and put a thumb on the opening to splash and wetten whatever has to be soaked with the precious bubbly wine.

by helmut schonwalder