How to properly saber a bottle of Champagne - and in the process become a master of sabrage
Feel like channeling your inner Napoleon? Or maybe you just want to be the center of the party? Or maybe, just maybe you appreciate the fine art of sabrage, or the act of opening a champagne bottle with a sabre or sword, enough that you want to learn how to do so properly, elegantly, and most of all – safely. Well, you came to the right place. Before we dive into the a step by step process let’s quickly explore the science behind why champagne sabering works, and the history behind the art of the champagne guillotine.
Wine and Champagne are surprisingly scientific. In our more gluttonous moments we forget what goes on behind the scenes – the chemistry behind a great Cabernet Sauvignon, or the physics of a champagne bottle. Champagne Bottles are made up of two halves seamed together holding back an accumulated 35lbs of force pushing at the cork at all times. Think of a champagne saber like a bottle of sparkling water all shook up. The second you let that cork go 35lbs of pressure is released – that’s a lot of power on a 4 ounce cork – enough to make it fly across a room, or in our case, slice the glass cleanly and then fly across the room.
In the nascent days of champagne, bottle manufactures used a thinner glass, and often didn’t include a wire cage over the cork. In those days champagne bottles were apt to spontaneously combust in the cellar – or in a users hands. No wonder Napolean had such an easy time of sabering his champagne while on horseback. Today, bottle producers of course us a wire cage and thicker glass, but that doesn’t stop us from sabering champagne. See, the seam that runs the course of the bottle (mentioned earlier) is a weak (breaking) point for the champagne bottle. Run the saber along the seam, exert enough pressure, opens a clean cut in the glass – propelling the cork and a ring of glass with it. Ready to do it yourself? Ready to channel your master-sommelier? Let’s get down to it:
How to sabrage:
Step 1: AND MOST IMPORTANT: Point the Bottle Away from all life forms. Just like popping a cork, sabering a champagne bottle can propel the cork + glass quite hard. Make sure no one is in the blast zone.
Step 2: Make sure your champagne bottle is properly chilled. A champagne bottle is no different than an icicle, it snaps cleanly when nice and cold. 38°F at warmest.
Step 3: Remove the foil and cage from the bottle. Face the bottle away from anything breathing, and hold it at roughly a 45-degree angle to minimize spillage.
Step 4: Locate the seam that runs vertically around the bottle, and set your saber lightly against it at a very slight downward angle. Set the saber at the base of the neck, where the bottle starts to get wide. Slide the saber back toward your body, and with a clean, consistent stroke slide the blade upward along the seam with a bit of force – driving the saber into the lip of the champagne bottle.
Step 5: Congrats! You did it. You’re officially a sabrage master. Or French. Probably both. Your cork (with a little glass ring around it) should’ve gone flying. If it didn’t, make sure you’re using an actual bottle of champagne (preferably French Champagne, Spanish Cava, or Iron Horse Vineyards (if you’re into Califoirnia Sparkling Wine). Also make sure the bottle is cold enough and try again!
Ready to make the plunge and purchase a champagne saber? Check out our webstore – you can personalize your saber with an name, message, or logo engraving.
Want to go even further and purchase a Champagne and Saber combo pack? Check out the package offered by Iron Horse Vineyards in Collaboration with California Champagne Saber Co.
It’s a heck of a deal, or a gift, to someone else or yourself!
California Champagne Saber Co