How to open a bottle of Champagne with grace and aplomb
News flash: That loud "pop" we all strive for when opening a bottle of Champagne can actually adversely affect the way your bubbly tastes. We know; it's a sad day when we actually have to take the "pop" out of poppin' bottles, but the best way to open your Champagne is as follows:
- Start with a bottle chilled to about 45 degrees F.
- Remove the foil, but not the wire cage over the cork. Just loosen it, and use it to grip the cork.
- Keep your thumb securely over the cork to keep it from shooting off.
- Start twisting the bottle from the bottom slowly, and let some bubbles slowly release from the cork.
- Once most of the pressure is off the cork, use your thumb and forefinger to twist off the cork at the end.
You may miss the cork flying across the room and the fanfare that follows the loud sound, but the taste — and no waste — make up for it. Crazy but true. It's all about the bubbles, baby, and keeping them in your wine and ready to do their gorgeous little dance across your tongue.
During a recent visit I made to the Domaine Carneros winery — which produces Taittinger sparkling wines in Sonoma, California — the expert on hand demonstrated the "soft pop" technique outlined above. Then he opened a bottle in the typical "hard pop" style and let us taste the difference. It was noticeable. The soft pop wine tasted softer, more buttery and had far more bubbles than the hard-popped bottle.
Now, if you've got a cheap bottle of sparkling wine you've bought to spray on your teammates after a World Series win or something, then by all means, shake that sucker up, and let that cork rip. But if you're serving a beautiful bottle over the holidays, the soft pop is for you.
Here's a great example of a "soft pop" Champagne bottle opening. This chef puts the bottom of the bottle toward his body, which seems like it might mess up your outfit or look weird if you're hosting a party. You can also just keep the bottom of the bottle secure in your hand. Check it out. Cheers!
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