Sabrage: How to Saber Champagne

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The Ground Rules

1. Sabrage is meant for Champagne or high-end Méthode Champenoise bubbly. Cheap bottles mean cheap glass, explosions and expensive ER visits. Life is too short to drink crummy bubbly and certainly too short to saber it.

2. Make sure your bubbly is ice-cold!

3. Do this in an area where you’re OK with some broken glass and splashed bubbly … like my living room at my annual New Year’s Day party. (I personally like champagne stains on my ceiling.)

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4. Be reasonably sober. Yes, this is the ultimate party trick, and you’re drinking the best beverage on earth, but remember that there’s four times the pressure of a car tire in a glass bottle wanting out.

5. It’s not the size of your instrument, it’s how you use it. Starting off with a big, heavy knife highly increases your chances of popping your cork, but ain’t nothin’ sexier than sabering with the foot of a champagne flute. It’s all in the wrist and it’s all about finesse.

The Steps

1. Remove all frou-frou decorative packaging and foil around the top of the bottle. Leave the cage on for now.

2. Find the seam. All bubbly bottles are two identical halves fused together. The seam goes from the base to the lip of the bottle. Once you find it, feel for the seam on the opposite side to make sure you have found it.

3. Hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle with the seam facing up. This gives the lowest pressure on the cork.

4. There is a pressure point where the top of the seam makes a “T” as it meets the lip of the bottle. It is not about strength; it is a “firmly gentle” tap on the pressure point with follow-through. No follow-through, no par-tay.

5. It’s showtime. Point the bottle away from your friends. (If your enemies are with you, that is bad karma; you should not be sabering Champagne with your enemies.) Remove the cage (six and a half clockwise twists) and set aside. Practice a couple “firmly gentle” swings sliding up the seam of the bottle with follow-through. Then, with the back (very important!) of a chef’s knife (or foot of a champagne flute, spoon, golf club or base of a bowling trophy) slide the chosen item up the seam and follow through after it hits the pressure point. No worries if it takes a few times, just relax and be “firmly gentle.”

6. Celebrate! Be sure to save your first sabered cork. The first time you are the most nervous, but it’s always special, as long as you are reasonably sober.

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