Opening Champagne bottles and other sparkling wines...
Opening Champagne, along with other sparkling wines needs care and attention beyond what a regular wine bottle demands...
Unlike their flat, no-fizz siblings, bubbly wines like Champagne and Spumante require a completely different approach to be opened.
In fact, if you were to try to open a bubbly wine using a regular wine’s corkscrew, you could in fact end up with the cork and corkscrew flying out with a vengeance right towards your eye!
Instead of risking unnecessary flying objects and injury, heed this simple advice: never use a corkscrew on a bottle of bubbly!
What to do instead? Read on.
Before Opening Champagne...
First of all, calm your bubbly wine down by either letting it sit upright for several hours, or ideally up to a day. If time is of the essence, you can submerge it into a filled ice bucket for around a half hour to achieve the same effect.
Just make sure you’re aware of how much cooler the wine is below its regular serving temperature. Chilled sparkling does not mean ice cold like a beer, so after its half hour ice box vacation, keep it at room temperature for several minutes to reach its ideal serving temperature.
Bubbly wine corks are also shaped differently than with regular wines - with a mushroom top that protrudes out of the bottle’s rim that’s encased with a thin wire netting that looks a bit like a cage. This is meant to keep the cork in place despite the pressurized wine below that’s inevitably trying to push the cork out and escape!
Opening Champagne Step-by-Step:
- To remove the cork, carefully unhinge the wire cage from the cork top, while always holding one hand atop the cork as a precaution - without the cage, the cork might pop out on its own due to the highly pressurized wine inside, so don’t be distracted when removing the wire, and point the bottle top away from people and breakable objects.
- At this point the mushroom top gives you ample grip to simply grab and yank out the cork. While this bravado opening will create a loud pop - just like in the movies - beware that much of the wine will come cascading down the bottle and onto the floor, and wine gone to unnecessary waste as stickiness on the floor to be mopped up the morning after isn’t all too classy at all...
- Instead, you want the cork to simply ‘sigh’ while being gently removed. Position the bottle at a 45 degree angle, wrap a thin towel around the bottle neck to prevent spillage and to provide you a good grip, and plant the bottle base firmly in your hip bone for support.
- Now, instead of twisting out the cork, try twisting the bottle instead to gain the most control over how the cork will finally emerge. When the cork starts poking out of the bottle, you actually push down on it gently, so the cork will emerge slowly, gently, and with a hiss instead of a pop.
Opening Champagne Tip:
If you come across an especially stubborn Champagne cork, run the bottle neck under warm water for three to five minutes.
This sudden heat should agitate the carbonation inside the top of the bottle enough to want to push out the cork faster.
It’s a similar effect to shaking up a can of soda!
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