While we love Adam’s spirit of adventure and we definitely love a good glass of champagne, we cannot advise anyone to try this at home. Something tells me that there is a reason, the art of sabrage has been lost! —EH Stafford, Managing Editor

 

Saving a bottle of Champagne for that special occasion, especially if it was given as a gift, is a perfect start to the holiday festivities. Unless the cork has completely dried out. Now what do you do? Grab the heaviest knife in the drawer, armed with a few tricks and tips!

 

The lost art of Sabrage

The art of Sabrage uses a sabre to open the bottle, usually for ceremonial purposes, but will also be employed with older bottles of Champagne when the integrity of the cork may be in question. The sword bearer will follow the contour of the glass up to the top lip of the bottle, striking it with the blunt side of the sword, concentrating all the force into one small point on the glass. This will remove both the cork and the collar of the bottle in one shot.

 

 

The physics behind sabrage

When the glass bottle is made, there is a seam in the glass that runs the length of the bottle. This will concentrate any stress in the glass. Following the seam up to the lip of the bottle which is added later in the glass making process adds another stress point. The internal pressure in the Champagne bottle is around 90 psi due to the secondary fermentation in the bottle, which generates the bubbles in the wine. When the knife or sword hits the stress point, the glass will shear and the internal pressure will shoot the cork along with the glass collar out.

 

How to do it at home (definitely NOT recommended … )

Make sure the bottle is as cold as possible. Pull the bottle out of the refrigerator just before sabering. Find the seam on the bottle and line up the back side of the knife you will use. The heavier the knife the better.

 

DO NOT point the bottle at anyone near by!!

It is a great way to have an unplanned visit to the emergency room! Go outside in the front yard and line up your shot. Hold the bottle in your off-dominant hand with the knife in your dominant hand. As you move the knife up the seam of the glass, pull the bottle towards you to increase the velocity of the knife, and the cork should literally pop right off!

 

 

Wine images courtesy Pixabay.com

 

 

 

Adam Arlen, Sommelier

 

Adam Arlen: “I am passionate about wine because it is history in a bottle.” He is the sommelier for The Peninsula Club in Cornelius, NC. Originally from Allentown, PA, he believes you should always branch out and find new things. His goal is to never stop learning and continuing to grow both personally and professionally. A fun fact about him: “I was a nuclear engineer on a submarine in a previous life.”

 

 

 

 

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