Champagne is the only alcoholic beverage that can have catastrophic consequences when incorrectly opened. 24 people die every year due to flying champagne corks, but if you’re a bubbly connoisseur, you’re probably more worried about losing precious drops of your beverage to too much effervescence. Opening your bottle isn’t as complicated as you might think. As long as it’s fridge-cold, unshaken, and uncorked with a towel or thumb held over the tip, you should do just fine. Twist the bottle after the metal has been removed and you’ll ease the cork off without creating a fuss.
Don’t Open it Warm
Keep a cola can in the sun long enough and it will reduce itself to useless fizz the second you open it. Champagne does the same, so don’t pop the cork until the bottle is chilled to fridge temperature or you’ll lose half of that expensive bottle. If you’ve been driving or walking with bottle in hand, don’t open it until it’s had time to settle itself.
Don’t Ice it
Chilling champagne below 49 degrees Fahrenheit will mask many of its complex flavors and aromas. Before it’s opened, store it horizontally because a wet cork prevents air from getting into the bottle. Refrigerate it for several hours and then keep it away from sunlight afterward. Ice and bubbly should never be mixed.
Don’t Be Melodramatic
It might seem festive to let the cork choose its own trajectory, but letting it fly freely can achieve two things: You’ll probably break a window and lose quantity to that vicious effervescence. Instead, ease the cork out slowly, catching it with a towel. The bottle shouldn’t pop. There should be only the barest whisper of effervescence. Jovial as that popping sound is, it’s simply not elegant. Even worse, the dramatic release of pressure will bruise the bubbles, making your champagne less sparkling than it should be.
Don’t Forget the Foil
Amateurs rip the foil open, but pros use wine opener blade to score it neatly.
Don’t Tilt the Bottle Towards the Crowd
The bottle should be tilted away from all guests, including you. Hold it at 45 degrees and keep the cage in place while you twist it loose. Six turns will be enough to loosen it and let you control the cork better while you remove it. It can hit your eye in only 0.05 seconds, so this is a critical step. The pressure is so potent that it can break bones and cause glaucoma.
Don’t Forget the Decanter
Vintages older than the Eighties should never be poured directly from the bottle. Using a well-iced decanter will give the bubbly’s aroma time to blossom. It’ll be slightly less effervescent, but far more delicious.
Don’t Twist the Cork
It might seem tricky to twist the bottle instead of the cork, but it’s much less clumsy than trying to catch an escaped cork while turning it. This takes some practice but considering that there are 90 pounds of pressure per square inch inside the bottle, it’s important to master. Your cork can travel as much as 50 kilometers an hour so you shouldn’t pull it out in one movement. Instead, give the gas a few seconds to escape before removing it entirely.
The glass you pour your champagne in is as important as the technique you use to open it. The goal is to reduce the amount of air your bubbly is exposed to, so always use a flute glass. There are far more wrong ways to open your champagne than there are correct ways, but get it right and your tastebuds will thank you.