I follow Jacques Pepin on Facebook and a month or two ago, he posted a video of him popping the top off a bottle of champagne with a pocket knife. Granted, it was a big pocket knife, but I was intrigued. In the comments to the video, someone posted a link to instructions on how to open a bottle that way. It’s called “sabering”. It seems French soldiers liked to use their sabers to knock the top off champagne bottles. It’s very flashy and debonair.
I thought “that looks like fun. ”
I watched the video and thought “I could try that…”
There’s a few tricks that make it work. First, use French or Spanish champagne, the bottles are a little thicker and make sure the method of fermentation is Champenoise, that creates more pressure in the bottle. So Prosecco and the like won’t work.
Second, chill the bottle thoroughly. It needs to be ice cold. That makes the glass more brittle.
Third, find the seam on the side of the bottle, that’s where you will run the edge of whatever you are using to saber the bottle.
I used a big chef’s knife and slid it along the seam and barely tapped the edge of the bottle where the cork goes in and it popped off like nobody’s business.
From now on, I am only buying European champagne and opening it like this. Much easier than pulling a cork out.
And way more stylish.
Thank you, Monsieur Pepin.