Ask Mike: Episode 1 - Champagne Fever

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Mike Supple shows you how to correctly open or saber a bottle of Champagne while minimizing collateral damage.
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Assistant: Dear Mike, I need your help. Every time I open a bottle of Champagne something disastrous happens. I have a hard enough time getting the cork to pop out, and then when it does, look out! There must be a less dangerous way to celebrate.

Mike: Not drinking Champagne due to fear of injury is just a sin. In fact, I can't think of any reason to not drink Champagne. Champagne corks pop out because the wine is bottled under pressure with CO2 gas dissolved in it: this is what makes the bubbles. Opening the bottle safely is a fairly straightforward process. First, tear off the foil to expose the capsule and the cork. Next, unfold the metal tab and untwist it to loosen the wire cage, but don't remove it yet. Once you start this process, make sure to keep your hand on top of the cork and apply some pressure. When the cage is loosened, cover the entire cork and cage with your hand. With your other hand, grab the bottom of the bottle and start twisting. Keep some pressure on top of the cork to make sure it doesn't fly off before you're ready. This can take a little practice, but that's just a great excuse to drink as much Champagne as possible!

Mike (cont'd): If you get bored of opening Champagne the normal way, congratulations; you're almost drinking enough bubbly. Sometimes the situation calls for a little more bravado. This is one of the more dangerous and difficult things you can do, so I recommend practicing a few times before you try it on a date.

Mike (cont'd): Champagne corks pop out because the secondary fermentation in the bottle creates the gas, bubbles and a lot of pressure. The cheaper stuff is generally made a lot more like soda. They inject the CO2 right before they bottle it. That generally doesn't leave enough pressure for what I'm about to do. Because of the internal pressure, if you hit the bottle just right with something hard it'll knock the cork, the cage and the top of the bottle flying in a random direction. It's safe to drink because the pressure inside expands and knocks loose any shards of glass that may be present. Of course, if I do it wrong, the bottle could just explode in my hands.

Mike (cont'd): That means you should always wear proper eyewear, gloves, do it outside and you should definitely do it far away from any other people. [Don't try this at home.]

Mike (cont'd): There is enough pressure inside the bottle to crack it open with something like a spoon or a kitchen knife if you have enough practice, but since you're doing to impress people, I recommend using something a little bit more...impressive.

Mike (cont'd): I'm not actually going to swing at it. What you do is slide the sword along the glass bottle until it hits the glass lip. Do this with enough force and the top should pop off. If you're having trouble, it helps to chill the bottle as much as possible before you attack.


Mike: Cheers. Careful, it's sharp!

Matt: Who wants more Champagne?

Partying with Champagne and swords.

Partying with Champagne and swords.

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