How to saber a bottle of champagne
As promised in my last blog, this is a quick and easy demonstration of Champagne Sabrage using a standard 7" or 10" chef's knife. The practice of Sabrage became popular in France during the time of Napolean, who was known to have said, "Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it." The saber being the sword of choice during his time, you can imagine how many bottles were hence opened this way on the battle field.
Important things to remember:
1. Care and consideration should always be taken when attempting this process. The collar of the Champagne bottle will completely break free and fly 5-15 feet through the air. The glass edge on both the flying collar and the bottle itself will remain quite sharp. Do not wipe the edge with your hand and be careful handling the piece that breaks free.
2. Champagne should always be chilled in an ice & water mixture until it is as cold as possible. This minimizes the loss of Champagne during Sabrage and also makes the target point more brittle and easier to snap with very little effort.
3. Be sure your knife is not too flimsy. You will use the flat, back edge of the knife, where the metal is thickest, has the most mass, and will supply the most force to the contact point.
4. Remove all of the foil and carefully locate the where the vertical seam meets the collar. Hold the knife at about a 30 degree angle to the bottle, perpendicular to the seam. Then simply slide the knife along that seam and make firm, but not overly aggresive contact with the collar. When watching the video, pay attention to the speed at which I slide the knife along the bottle - it does not require a lot of force. Just a smooth, steady sweep.
Note: This can be done without removing the wire cage first, but I recommend doing a few times first to get the hang of the practice before doing it with the cage still on.
Eric Arsenault is the Sommelier for The Chop House and the Director of Wine and Spirits for Mainstreet Ventures.