The dramatic way to open champagne.
October 30, 2001 10:22 AM   Subscribe

The dramatic way to open champagne. Have you used or seen someone use a champagne saber? Amazing that the bottle neck doesn't shatter around the edges. I tried looking on Google for some lore and description but found nothing.
posted by mmarcos (18 comments total)
You may have better luck searching for "champagne sabre" instead of "saber". "In Napoleon's time, gallant cavalry officers would open champagne by cracking off the neck of the bottle with a blow from their sabres."
posted by girlhacker at 10:39 AM on October 30, 2001

Spell it "sabre" as the French do, and you will find lots of lore like this.
posted by Carol Anne at 10:41 AM on October 30, 2001

There's a good tale with usage info here (yes, found using Google):

I'd never heard anything like this before - sounds cool.
posted by Qubit at 10:49 AM on October 30, 2001

Say it! Say saber Frenchy!
posted by bob bisquick at 10:49 AM on October 30, 2001

We did this at my residential college's graduation party. (We had lots of champagne, and lots of open space with few breakables.)

The technique doesn't require a fancy special-purpose sabre, just a good, strong, heavy knife (a 10" chef's knife should suffice).

Dan's champagne-slicing quick-reference:

  1. Hold the bottle (in your non-dominant hand) pointing away from you and tilted upward about 30°.
  2. Hold the knife in your dominant hand, level with the horizon, blade away from you. Place the flat of the knife on the surface of the bottle (on or around the label).
  3. In one smooth, firm, confident motion (believe me, this helps), sweep the knife down the length of the bottle, maintaining bottle contact the entire way. Imagine that you will slice cleanly through the neck of the bottle, because this is what will (hopefully) occur.

The pressure of the champagne is focused on a weak point in the glass of the neck of the bottle, and it (the neck) will split along invisible lines of cleavage. You'll be left with some champagne on the ground, the bottle neck somewhere across the room, and a bottle of champagne ending in an elliptical conic section, ready to be poured out to your admiring friends.

You are to hold me blameless for any injury or other damage caused by use of this technique. Consider yourself warned.

posted by dsandl at 10:49 AM on October 30, 2001 [1 favorite]

Wine and liquor snobs, as well as Miss Manners types, will tell you that doing this and popping the cork and letting it fly, are boorish practices, uncouth, really poor taste, etc.

I say, what the hell. It's your champagne, do what you want with it.

But that drinking-from-a-shoe bit just seems gross. Who the hell thought of that?
posted by yesster at 11:17 AM on October 30, 2001

well, yes, popping the cork is boorish because more often than not it results in much lost champagne. It seems that this technique does not... plus, it's way freakin' cooler than just letting the cork fly :-)
posted by starvingartist at 11:25 AM on October 30, 2001

You mean there are other ways to open champagne? How do you do it without the sabre?
posted by Postroad at 11:27 AM on October 30, 2001

The only problem I see with this technique has nothing to do with Miss Manners' view of propriety, but everything to do with the champagne. It's better to ease that ol' cork out gently with a folded towel enclosing the bottle to insulate its cold contents from the warmth of your hand. That way, you preserve more of that delightful natural carbonation. Any other technique is just showing off.

You know what Dom Perignon first said to an assistant when he discovered champagne by accident? "Come quickly; I am tasting stars!"
posted by alumshubby at 11:29 AM on October 30, 2001

One of the challengers did this on Iron Chef. There used to be a video of it out there somewhere. Can anyone find it?
posted by nprigoda at 11:38 AM on October 30, 2001

girlhacker, Carol Anne, thanks for pointing out the French spelling. Should have thought of this.
posted by mmarcos at 11:43 AM on October 30, 2001

Hey! That saber thing - if you don't have any champagne, will it work with an enemy's head?
posted by UncleFes at 11:52 AM on October 30, 2001

I was 2 for 3 on NY eve 2000 on the sabre technique (using a machette in the back yard). When it works it is very cool, lets just say the failures are... dramatic. Wrap your arm in a thick towel.
posted by jonnyp at 12:12 PM on October 30, 2001

Any other technique is just showing off

But isn't Champagne just mediocre wine showing off?

<ducking the cork barrage />
posted by dchase at 12:19 PM on October 30, 2001

Geez, I was just using a paper cutter today, telling someone how because I only use one every third year or so it always brings to mind the dramatic incident when I was about 15 and my dad's secretary cut off the tip of her thumb. I had a learner's permit but she was too nervous about her insurance to let me drive her to the hospital.
posted by dhartung at 4:04 PM on October 30, 2001

I prefer to open my champagne with a good, old fashioned brick.
posted by Doug at 7:00 PM on October 30, 2001

In French, it's called "sabrer le champagne," and I learned how to do it at an unforgettable outdoor dinner in southwest France, in the countryside near Toulouse, several years ago. Since I was the only American present, when the host prevailed upon me, I knew that the reputation of the United States of America was at stake, and that I could not fail! Thank God, I succeeded on my second (and third) tries and my efforts were rewarded with the thunderous applause of all the French people present at the party. Not only was it a personal triumph, but I also upheld America's honor.
posted by rwkenyon at 7:05 AM on October 31, 2001 [1 favorite]

I did this. Tonight. At a fellow MeFier's wedding. Attended by at least one other MeFier. I used a high-quality butcher knife, and it worked beautifully, 4 for 4. If anyone is still reading this thread, I'll give details later.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:37 PM on November 24, 2001

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