The Winestyr team went out to lunch last Friday, and while we were eating, two different tables opened bottles of champagne. While we applaud the spirit – day drinking on a Friday is a great tradition – neither table knew how to open a bottle of champagne. How could we tell? Because in both cases the cork flew off the bottle, nearly hitting the high ceiling of the restaurant – the exact opposite of what should happen if you open a bottle correctly.
Many guides say that to open a bottle of champagne you need a towel, specialized skill, or even a saber! None of that is true – all you need is a bit of patience and some common sense. Start with a bottle that’s as cold as possible – no one likes warm champagne, after all. If you need to chill a bottle quickly, instead of just putting it on ice, put it on ice that has been heavily salted (trust us) or in an ice water bath; these methods can chill a bottle completely in 15-30 minutes.
Once you have your cold bottle ready to go, proceed by carefully removing the foil and the wire cage – no need to rush this. It’s a good idea to keep the bottle pointed away from you (and others!) from this point on, just in case the cork decides to rocket off on its own. Once you’ve removed the wire cage, put one palm over the cork and hold firmly. With your other hand, grip the bottle and twist the bottle, not the cork, until you hear and feel the cork pop. Take your time – done correctly, there should be only a slight pop and, most importantly, no loss of champagne!
Champagne is one of the most versatile wines there is – it goes great as an aperitif, as a dessert (try a cheaper champagne or sparkling wine with a little St. Germain elderflower liqueur mixed in), or with food. It’s actually an excellent wine to pair with food that is either spicy or greasy, as the bubbles from the champagne will “scrub” your tongue of spice or grease and leave you ready to the enjoy the next bite. But of course, it’s also great on its own. Just remember, unless you’ve just won a Nascar race or the World Series, there’s no reason to shake the bottle, pop the cork, and spray champagne around – save it for yourself!
By Pooneet Kant