How to Saber Champagne
Sabering a bottle of champagne is a neat trick that is very impressive to your guests. Opening a bottle of champagne with a saber is most typically done for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and New Year's parties, but with our easy step-by-step guide to sabering a bottle of champagne, you can be able to open a bottle with a blade every time. Here we'll teach you the history of sabering champagne, what type of blade you'll need, the physics behind the phenomenon, as well as how to saber champagne safely.
The History of Opening Champagne with a Saber
Opening champagne bottles with a saber is also known as sabrage, and it became popular in nineteenth-century France under the reign of Napoleon. After winning a battle, Napoleon's armies would celebrate by drinking champagne, and they would open the bottles using the easiest method on hand. In many cases, the easiest way to open the bottles was with the sabers that many soldiers carried. Since then, opening a bottle with a saber has become a tradition in fine dining settings for special occasions and celebrations.
What Blade Should You Use to Open Champagne Bottles?
Traditionally, sabers have been used to open champagne bottles in this fashion. These champagne swords have medium-length blades that are around 30 centimeters or 12 inches with dull edges. Many champagne sabers have decorations on the handle and a highly polished blade, which enhances the show.
A traditional champagne sword is not necessary for sabering a champagne bottle, though. For restaurants and clubs that only need to open bottles on rare occasions and holidays, you can use a simple chef knife.
The Science Behind Sabering Champagne Bottles
So why can you cut off the top of a glass bottle using a dull knife? It has to do with the pressure. Champagne is very bubbly and full of carbon dioxide, which creates a lot of pressure inside the bottle and on the cork.
In medieval days, many bottles of champagne would explode in wine cellars due to the pressure. To combat this, wine makers would add wire cages over their corks to keep them secure. When sabering champagne, you're creating a small crack in the glass near the top of the bottle, which releases the pressure in a powerful burst that removes the top of the bottle completely.
How to Saber a Champagne Bottle
Chill your champagne before you're ready to open it. You can either refrigerate the bottle until it's around 38-40 degrees Fahrenheit or chill it in a bucket of ice for 10-15 minutes. The glass becomes more brittle when it's cold, which makes it easier to open.
Remove the wire fastener and any foil that might be over the cork.
Find the seam on your bottle. The seam is the line that runs down the side of your bottle, and it's the weakest part of the glass.
Hold your bottle firmly at a 45 degree angle with the top of the bottle facing away from you. The cork may fly a fair length, so be sure to stand at a safe distance from your customers.
Hold the knife flat against the bottle with the blunt edge facing the lip. Run the blade along the seam, and then quickly and firmly thrust forward, up the seam toward the lip of the bottle. You are aiming for the spot where the seam meets the lip of the bottle.
If you did it properly, the cork should break off and champagne should spill out of the opening. Allow a little champagne pour out to ensure any remaining glass shards are washed away, and then serve your guests.
Opening champagne with a saber is great for special occasions, New Year's parties, and catered events, and it is a necessary skill for foodservice operators at banquet halls, upscale restaurants, and classic venues. With a little practice and by following our easy guide and video, you can be practicing the art of sabrage in no time at all.