Celebrate Champagne Day Oct 24th in style! The art of sabrage.

Nothing says celebration like a little bubbly. So from Champagne, to Cava, Prosecco or Sparkling wine, bubbly served in a tall flute says the occasion is a special one. Why not ratchet it up a notch or two by opening your sparkling wine with flare befitting of the fabulous occasion. Now you too can practise the art of Sabrage,  a technique for opening a Champagne  bottle with a saber used for ceremonial occasions.

We offer a complete line of sabers through The Wine Ladies on line store. Check here for details!

A little history….
In times of triumph French officers under Louis XIV, and later, Napoleon’s gallant soldiers – the Hussars -opened Champagne with a strong blow from their swords. Napoleon is known to have said, “Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it.”

Another says Mme.Clicquot  (the widow Clicquot), in order to have her land protected, was giving Napoleon’s officers Champagne and glasses.  Being on their horses, they couldn’t hold the glass while opening the bottle.  Consequently, they threw the glasses away, and took out their sabers, beheaded the bottles and drank directly from the bottle.

Some famous quotes…

“Champagne is the only wine that leaves a woman beautiful after drinking it”….. Madame de Pompadour

In the movies…

“The night they invented Champagne, / it’s plain as it can be / they thought of you and me…” Leslie Caron (as Gigi) in “Gigi” (1958)


“Hey, did you ever try dunking a potato chip in Champagne. It’s real crazy!” Marilyn Monroe (as The Girl) in “The Seven Year Itch” (1955)


“Oh no, Emil, please. A bottle of your best Champagne, and put it on my bill.” Claude Rains (as Captain Renault) in “Casablanca” (1942)


The Art of Sabrage

The Preparation

1.The bottle “MUST” be very cold. 

Place the bottle in the fridge at least 1 hour prior to opening or ½ an hour in the freezer.  Why? 

It is the pressure and the vibration that will “cut” the glass.  A warm bottle has more pressure, which is asking for problem.  Another temperature tip:  If placed in an iced bucket, most of the bottle cools down, “Except” the important part which is the neck.  It is important to have the bottle completely cold (including the neck).  Also, when handling the bottle, it is recommended to “not hold it by the neck” (because the hand will warm it).

Since we don’t need additional pressure in the bottle, please do not shake the bottle.  The bottle should always be handled gently. If it has been shaken in transportation, the bottle must rest longer in the fridge. When there is a large crowd, the temperature tends to rise.  If the bottles are in big buckets, it is very important to keep adding ice to keep the bottle very cold.

2.Where to open the bottle. 

People should never stand in front of it.  Make sure the bottle is pointed away from people as the cork can fly/roll up to 30 feet (10 meters)

3.Hold the bottle with a cloth.  Why?

For various reasons (warm or shaken bottles, default in the glass, etc.) the bottle may simply “explode”. Holding it with a cloth helps protect the hand, while looking more elegant. 

The Opening:

One should keep in mind; it is not a matter of “strength”. It is a matter of “vibration” and fineness.  It is not the force of the blade against the bottle that will open it, it is the vibration created by the blade against the bottle.

Once ready to open, iremove the wrapping and the metallic wire around the cork.  Use the “back” of the blade.  (No need to use the “sharp” side). 

Firmly hold the bottle at the bottom (with a cloth), and “gently” but “firmly” slide the “back” of the blade against the bottle, from the bottom to the top of the neck.  It is recommended to slide the saber against one of the line on the glass. When the saber reaches the cork portion, it will cut the glass.

If done properly, it will be a “clean” cut.  You will be able to judge how skilled someone is by looking on “how straight” is the cut glass.  If it is perfectly straight, it is excellent.  If it is inclined, it means the person is using strength to open, and should slow down.  The more inclined, the more strength, until the bottle explodes completely. 

No more than the equivalent of 1/2 glass should leave the bottle and ideally none at all.



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