Bubbly Do-Right

Learn to open your Champagne like a pro. 


Published:

To Pop Right, Make it a Hiss

Planning on opening a bottle of Champagne to impress your guests? Great idea! Not only are Champagne and other sparkling wines celebratory, but they make great matches to a variety of foods due to their zinging acidity. But one of the biggest misconceptions about sparkling wines is that a bottle should "pop" when opened. While a satisfying sound, the pop results from escaping carbonation, the very stuff that creates the bubbles, and it means there is too much pressure being released. To get the most satisfaction from your glass of bubbly, follow these simple steps:

 Preparation:

  • Champagne must be chilled. Not only will it settle the carbonation in the bottle, but it simply tastes better. While placing your bottle in a refrigerator overnight works, putting it in a bucket filled with ice and water works better, and makes for a finer presentation. Put the bottle in the bucket first to make sure it doesn't sit on top of the ice, then fill with ice and lastly water, which will help it to chill faster. Make sure the bottle chills for at least 15 minutes.
  • Have two Champagne flutes handy (even if it's not Champagne you're drinking). The shape is intended to divert the aromas to your nose, and the wine will enter your mouth smoothly for maximum pleasure. Besides, they're classy.

Serving:

  • When pulling the bottle from ice, it helps to have a towel handy for grip and presentation. Place the bottle on a flat surface.
  • Most foil has a tab to pull that will create an opening around the neck of the bottle. I am happier using a small knife and cutting up the edge of the foil to remove the entire piece- much less hassle leaving a cleaner looking bottle. This can be done beforehand to shorten the time of opening if you have an audience.
  • A flying cork can ruin any night. When you unwind and remove the wire cage, make sure to keep one hand pressed over the top of it. Using the towel to cover the cork, carefully remove the wire cage.
  • Keeping pressure on the cork, slowly turn the bottle until the pressure within the bottle forces it out. The trick is not to let the cork fly out (which produces the "pop") but to maintain pressure on it, slowly letting one end up so the air escapes out of the side in a satisfying "hiss."
  • Pour and enjoy!

 

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