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Bring in the New Year With a Bang!

Lee Stokes
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I’ve always gotten a little thrill out of opening a bottle of Champagne. There’s something about the ritual of removing the foil and wire cage, of twisting off the cork, and being rewarded with that signature “pop” that simply makes me giddy. But it wasn’t until last year that I learned there’s more than one way to open a bottle of bubbly. In fact, there’s a better way, and that’s to saber the bottle.

Sabering Champagne is big and showy, and an utter scene-stealer wherever you choose to execute it. What is sabering? Well, instead of twisting off the cork, you use a blunt blade to snap off the entire top of the bottle – cork and all. It’s a lot easier to demonstrate the technique rather than describe it in words, so I made this short video (with the help of the great Lee Stokes) to show you how.

We shot it outside, so the sound is a little challenging at a few points. To recap the main points:

First and foremost, do this at your own risk! This process not only sends a cork flying through the air, but also results in two edges broken glass (one attached the the cork, and the other on the bottle itself). However, you should definitely not let this warning discourage you.

  1. Get your bubbly, a blunt blade (such as the back of a chef’s knife), and your glasses ready. Sabering inevitably produces a festive spray of Champagne, so you may also want to do this outside.
  2. Remove the foil and cage from the bottle. From now on, keep the cork pointed away from yourself, other people, and any fragile objects that might be nearby.
  3. Find the seam that runs the length of the bottle, and then follow it up to the neck. The intersection of the seam and the neck is your target.
  4. Hold the bottle steady with your non-blade hand. With your other hand, use the blunt blade to trace the seam up to the target point, just like you’d set up a shot in pool. When you’re ready, follow through with a little bit of pressure. The top of the bottle will snap off with surprisingly little force.

Salud, Cheers, Cin Cin, and Happy New Year!


Leave a Comment


  • khut | 12/30/2009

    I don't think this 'trick' video has any place on your Fine website.
    Removing a champagne cork with this method is not only dangerous but wastes so much of the beverage and
    broken glass hurts!
    Your video showing the correct and safe way sends a much better message and is more in line with Fine Cooking's image.

  • sisterduck | 12/29/2009

    Thanks, but I'll stick to more conventional methods. Simply holding a towel over the cork prevents any projectile injuries, and I'm not willing to risk drinking glass.

  • GTO_driver | 12/29/2009

    Quite interesting. Everything has a risk. What a treat to see an unusual skill exhibited.

  • User avater
    Tyler_M | 12/29/2009

    Actually, if you look at the statistics, this is much safer than conventional methods of opening champagne. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO)claims that improperly aimed (non-sabered) Champagne corks are one of the most common causes of holiday-related eye injuries. There was an incident in England in 1952 in which 30% of the population of the Newbury Park Tube Station ended hospitalised with Champagne-cork-related injuries.

    Medical experts see more problems with folks trying to use a corkscrew or simply removing the cage long before opening the bottle. None of the literature available mentions sabrage-related injuries.

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