What is the best way to uncork a champagne bottle without bubbling over?
We've all seen it in countless movies – the cork is popped, flying across the room, followed by a cascade of champagne bubbles. It's very fun, and very dramatic. It's also a waste of perfectly good champagne, not to mention that a flying cork can actually be dangerous. An open champagne bottle should go along with a party, not a trip to the emergency room, and the proper technique can reduce the risk to innocent bystanders.
Champagne is best served at about 45 degrees. Since champagne is not improved by ice, this means chilling the bottle ahead of time. Once it's ready to serve, start by removing the pretty foil wrapper that is found at the top of all but the most low-end brands. (Side note: the practice of wrapping the bottle began originally as a way of keeping rats from hewing on the corks.)
Once the wrapper is removed, point the bottle in a safe direction, which means away from yourself (and anyone else, for that matter). Hold it at roughly a 45 degree angle to minimize bubbling, and twist the wire at the base of the cage to loosen it. Keep one thumb on the cork when you remove the cage, just in case. Corks can loosen slightly after bottling, and might go flying when the restraint of the cage is removed.
Hold the cork with one hand, and the base of bottle with the other. It may feel strange at first, but gently turn the bottle, not the cork. The cork should ease out of the bottle with a quiet pop, not a loud ka-boom. People often place a towel or cloth napkin over the top of the bottle while opening. This can make it easier to grip the cork as well as keep it from flying. It's also handy for clean-up if the champagne bubbles over.
All that's left now is to pour the champagne. Whether you use a tall slender flute or the rounded coupe glass is a matter of personal preference. (Another side note: Despite what you may have heard, the coupe glass was not molded on Marie Antoinette's breasts. She also never said "Let them eat cake" – not even in French – but that's another story.)
One thing that is not a matter of preference: Never use a corkscrew on champagne or other sparkling wine. The contents are under pressure, and a corkscrew is a good way to have a bad explosion.
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