Not all food and wine traditions—like grilling certain meats, decanting certain wines, or “popping” the cork off of a champagne bottle—results in a better product. Champagne is supposed to open with a bang, right? Not necessarily. In fact a huge celebratory “pop!” is actually a sign that it was opened by an amateur. Experts contend that a bottle of champagne opened with skill will make only a very small popping sound, or perhaps none at all.
Here is how to open a champagne bottle like a pro:
Chill thoroughly – Properly chilled champagne will fizz and/or froth over less
Towel dry the bottle – if there’s condensation to ensure a good grip and prevent slippage
Cut the foil – using a knife, only tearing with fingers after you’ve scored the foil.
Tilt and aim – Tilt the bottle to 45 degrees and aim it away from yourself, others, and anything breakable (like windows)
Hold the cork down – with one hand while twisting open the wire cage with the other
Twist the bottle – with one hand while continuing to hold the cork down with the other
Listen – for the sound of air escaping to signal that the bottle is open. There may also be a small cloud of gas.
The pop can be fun when among friends in a party atmosphere but if opened gently and quietly the champagne will have more bubbles and taste better. As the old saying goes “The ear’s gain is the palate’s loss.”
Once you’ve successfully opened the champagne the next step is pouring it. For the best results make sure the bubbly has been chilled to the proper temperature, 46º F – 57º F depending on age, and then further preserve the bubbles by using a ‘beer-like’ technique and pouring the liquid down the side of a tilted champagne flute.
This article was originally published on Pursuitist. Republished by permission.