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Master the Art of Champagne Sabering

It’s always impressive when someone wows a crowd by using a sword to open a bottle of Champagne. The art of sabrage — using a saber or knife to forcefully open a bottle of bubbly — has become an extravagant display.

If this is something you’ve always wanted to try, there are a few guidelines to make it a smooth, slick and safe achievement rather than a disaster. Remember, safety first.

Choose your bottle

Champagne made in the traditional method is best for sabering because it receives dosage (a form of sweetness to balance it) and goes through a secondary fermentation in the bottle. This creates more pressure than wines like Prosecco.

Chill your bottle

The temperature is critical, (between 38° and 42°). The cold makes the glass more brittle and easier to break so refrigerate a few hours before. Setting it in an ice bucket won’t do; that only cools the base of the bottle. After the bottle is chilled, some experts suggests flipping it cork-side down in ice water for 30 minutes to create more pressure and a cleaner cut.

Once it is chilled sufficiently, remove the foil, wire cage and metal cap. Then hold the bottle with your thumb on the cork until you’re ready. Due to the pressure, it could pop spontaneously and you don’t want that.

Hold your saber

Whether you have a fancy sabering sword or just a large knife, make sure as it’s thin, sturdy and metal. It doesn’t need to be sharp, experts recommend using the back side of a kitchen knife to prevent damaging the knife.

Hold your bottle

When you’re ready to saber, grasp it firmly by the base and point it away from any onlookers. You’ll want to hold it at a 30° to 45° angle. Now make sure your fingers are out of the way from incoming knives.

Find the seams

You’ll get a clean break at the intersection of the seam and the lip, so aim there. The seam should face up. Place the blade edge on the seam where the curve begins. Keep the blade in contact with the seam: The object is to hit the point where the seams cross the top of the neck.

Saber

Hold the knife flat against the bottle with the blunt edge toward the lip. (Remember: Hold the bottle at the bottom.) Before striking, take a few practice strokes. Now run the blade back along the seam toward your body and quickly and firmly drive it back up the seam toward the lip. Strike the lip sharply with the blade at a slight angle.

If you are successful, the cork (with a little ring of glass) should fly off the bottle and you should hear lots of applause. The cork can reach exciting speeds, so be careful.

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