Sparkling wines are versatile and almost universally appealing. Whether you are sipping Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, or Crémant, you can enjoy these sippers at brunch, pair them with salty antipasti, or drink them throughout practically any meal. Sparkling wines are perfect for celebrating or for just relaxing, but the actual opening can be a challenge. If you have heard horror stories about a bottle of bubbly exploding then read on: follow these simple steps and you can open your next bottle with nothing to fear.
The average bottle of sparkling wine is under somewhere between 70 to 90 pounds of pressure per square inch. This is where the risk comes in: if you don’t treat the bottle correctly, there is a chance that the pressure can force the cork out at a high speed and potentially cause injury or property damage. The first step you should take to avoid this is to chill your bottle properly. Sparkling wine should be served between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. For those of you in need of a little science refresher, temperature and pressure are directly proportional. If you chill your wine for several hours in a refrigerator, you can reduce the pressure in the bottle and decrease the chance of the cork exploding out of the bottle, thereby causing loss of limb (or security deposit).
To get started, you’ll need a wine key with a knife on it, a bar rag or cloth napkin, and, of course, a bottle of sparkling wine. This method only applies to bottles with traditional cork closures, even though today you can also find sparkling wines with crown caps or twist-off caps. Take your wine key and, using the knife, cut the foil underneath the cap. Start at the seam of the foil and cut towards yourself until you have cut halfway around the bottle. Then, flip the knife over start on the opposite side. Cut towards yourself again until you have cut all the way around the bottle. Once these incisions are made, in an upward motion, slice the foil from top to bottom and lift the foil away from the bottle using the blade of the knife.
When the foil is removed, place your thumb on top of the cage. Find the tab on the side of the metal cage. Untwist the tab and loosen the cage, but don’t remove it yet.
With your thumb still on the bottle, pick up your bar rag. Place the rag over the cork and bottle and then switch hands so that your thumb is no longer on the top of the bottle and your hand is over the rag. This ensures that if the cork pops unexpectedly your hand will guard it and it won’t fly off and cause harm to a person or object. Keeping the bottle upright, place one hand on the cork and one hand on the bottle. Hold the cork in place with your hand and twist the bottle slightly. When you start to feel the pressure, force the cork out and tilt the cork to the side to release the gas. The cork will slide out. A cork properly removed should make no noise.
To pour, hold either the bottom of the bottle or the punt (the dent in the bottom of the bottle). Pour a small amount into a wine glass or a Champagne flute. Wait for the bubbles to die down, then top off the glass.