Like Ralphie’s mom said in A Christmas Story — “You’ll shoot your eye out!”
The same goes for a bottle of Champagne if you don’t know what you’re doing. Luckily, we’ve gathered some of the best tips around for popping bottles like a professional all holiday season long. By the end of Christmas and New Years, you might even be the designated Champagne bottle opener. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Step One: Buy Champagne (or prosecco, sparkling white wine, rosé wine etc.)
To open a bottle, one must actually have a bottle. If you’re at the grocery store right now, read up on our quick guide to sparkling wine. If you already have a bottle (or were just handed one by a guest who expects you to open it), read on!
Step Two: Chill the Wine
Not only will the Champagne taste better, but a cold bottle is actually safer to open. That’s because the pressure within the bottle is higher when the wine is warm. A cold bottle has less pressure, and the cork is less likely to hit someone across the room.
Step Three: Dry the Bottle and Cut the Foil
If your bottle was submerged, make sure to dry it off to prevent it slipping and crashing onto the floor. Next, cut the foil. If you don’t mind a messy lip or foil falling at your feet, then this step isn’t totally necessary. However, we think it’s best to just remove the foil right away. Use a wine key to cut a clean line and then pull the foil cap off.
Step Four: Loosen the Wire Cage
Six half turns should do the trick. Don’t remove the cage entirely, the goal is to loosen it just enough so you can pop the cork.
Step Five: Rotate the Bottle, NOT the Cork
This is the biggest pro tip we can give when opening a bottle of Champagne. Never turn the cork, always hold the bottle at a 45 degree angle and twist the base of the bottle instead. Turn towards your body until the cork is loose (and almost off!) but the cage is still attached.
Step Six: Grab a Towel
Place a kitchen towel (perhaps the same one you used to dry off the bottle) over the neck of the bottle with just a little bit of air to catch the cork when it pops off. If you don’t have a kitchen towel, a jacket or shirt works just as well.
Step Seven: Gently Pop
Contrary to videos and celebrations where a cork sounds like a cannon and celebratory foam spills all over the place, the goal when opening a bottle of Champagne is to make it as quiet as possible. Did the cork pop off with a faint hiss? Congratulations, you are officially a pro.But if a quiet celebration isn’t what you’re going for, go all-out and saber your bottle with almost any kitchen tool around with tips in this video … just don’t blame us if things go wrong.
Erin Hooker is a writer with experience creating wine, food, and interior design content. She began contributing to Graham + Fisk’s blog in 2021.