Opening a bottle of champagne with a sabre was introduced during Napoleonic wars when cavalrymen celebrated their victories. It requires certain conditions to be fulfilled to do it correctly. Below you can find step by step instructions.
- Not all sparkling wines bottles are made suitable for sabrage. Basically the more expensive one, the better. Chill your champagne to the right temperature which is about 3°C. Not enough chilled bottle may explode. Less of wine will also be lost (pushed outside by carbon dioxide after opening) when it is colder. There is a need of sufficient inside pressure, but all champagnes and all high quality sparkling wines generally fulfil the standard (at least 0,3 MPa). Have your special short bladed sabre prepared.
- Carefully remove the cage protecting the cork. The right temperature is important here as well. If the wine is cold enough, the cork will not be released on its own.
- Find the seam on the bottleneck. It will be the best place to hit. It is recommended especially for the beginners to remove all the foil. It makes sabrage easier but it is not fully necessary.
- Take the bottle with your left hand (or right one if you are left handed) and stick your thumb into the punt (at the bottle’s bottom). Hold it firmly. Take the sabre with your right hand. Stretch your hands to make longer distance from your body. Make sure there are no people or animals or nothing valuable which can be broken in the way (or area) which the bottleneck with cork is intended to go. Firmly hold the bottle inclined in 30°-45° angle.
- Lay your sabre to the seam on the bottleneck. Fluent smooth slide will follow in the next step.
- Chop through the bottle. The blade should slide on the glass dynamically as the bottle gets narrower and then continue through it under the stopper. No extra strong whack is needed because the wine is under pressure which will shoot the upper part forward automatically. In case the bottle is not still open even after several attempts try different one. Some of them could just be harder to chop through and it is always better to try the other one than stay with the same one at all costs. It can be dangerous because the bottle becomes more fragile after every strike, so be careful. Again, there is less probability of this to happen with more expensive wines. After successful sabrage there is almost straight cut on the bottleneck and all shards are washed away from the bottle by pressure. Then you can pour the champagne and toast. Cheers!
Properly done sabrage is a little show which may impress your guests or colleagues during ceremonial occasions. There are contests in sabrage held too. Records of number of bottles opened this way in a given time are still being broken. Anyway, what do beginners and professional have in common is that they should always consider their safety. There are two main threats. The bottle is under pressure which means risk that it may explode in your hand if anything goes wrong. To protect yourself you can always wear gloves and glasses. The second kind of danger comes with breaking of the bottleneck which springs the cork with a glass shard around it at high speed. This projectile can fly to distance up to 15 meters. You cannot be sure which way will it exactly go so it is better to clear the whole area (180°) in front of you. One more advice: it is not recommended to use Asian knives like katana etc. because it is harder and it can make the blade pretty much blunt. Although there are various tools which can be sabrage done with, the most effective and safest way is to stick by sabres made for this purpose.