As much fun as it might be to send a cork shooting over people’s heads and showering your guests with fizzy booze, there is another way to open Champagne and sparkling wines. A better way. Follow this easy, step-by-step guide on how to open a bottle of bubbly without accidentally poking your eye out!
There’s a lot of pressure pent up inside that bottle of Champagne. The problem isn’t really getting the cork out — it’s keeping control of the cork so it doesn’t go flying the second it’s free. The basic idea to opening Champagne, or any sparkling wine, without drama is easing out the cork as slowly and gently as possible, and then making sure you catch the cork.
Why You Need a Towel
A good-quality kitchen towel is not for wiping up the spills, but rather for controlling and containing the cork as you ease it out. The towel helps you keep a firm grip on the cork and also catches it once it’s released from the bottle.
Aim for a Whisper, Not a Pop
In culinary school, whenever a bottle of Champagne needed to be opened, my instructor would always admonish, “The Champagne should whisper when it opens!” When a bottle of sparkling wine is opened properly, you should just hear the barest puff of effervescence.
And if it wasn’t clear already, this is how you open any bottle of sparkling wine, be it actual Champagne, Prosecco, cava, Crémant, or any other. If you’re nervous, I recommend a trial run with another bottle of sparkling wine before the main event — after all, an extra bottle of bubbly is never a bad idea.
How To Open a Bottle of Champagne
What You Need
1 (750-ml) bottle Champagne, prosecco, cava, crémant, or other sparkling wine
Kitchen towel or cloth
1. Remove the foil: Look for a little pull-tab embedded in the foil cover near the top of the bottle. Pull on this to cut through the foil. If you don’t see a pull-tab, you can use the knife on a wine-key or the tip of a corkscrew to cut through the foil.
2. Discard the foil: Lift the foil away and discard.
3. Remove the cage: The wire cage fits over the cork, holding it firmly in place. On one side, you’ll see a few twisted wires where the wires of cage meet. Untwist these to loosen the cage.
4. Discard the cage: Lift off the cage and discard.
5. Cover the bottle with a towel and start wiggling the cork: The towel helps you keep control of the cork as you wiggle it out of the bottle and also prevents the cork from flying off across the room. Cover the cork completely, and hold the towel against the neck of the bottle with one hand — leave a little pocket of air around the cork so it has some room to move and come out of the bottle. Hold the bottle firmly with one hand and use the other to start wiggling the towel-covered cork out of the bottle. Go slowly — no need to literally “pop the cork.”
6. Remove the cork: As you wiggle the cork, the moment will come when the internal pressure in the bottle takes over and starts to push the cork out on its own. Let this happen, keeping a grip on the towel — the cork will pop out into the towel.
7. Pour and enjoy! All that’s left is to pour the Champagne and enjoy the glass. Cheers!
More on Sparkling Wines
What’s the Difference? Champagne vs. Prosecco vs. Cava
Navigating Champagne Styles at Your Local Wine Store
7 Best Values in Domestic Sparkling Wines