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Elizabeth Nixon
September 25, 2015 | Elizabeth Nixon

How to Saber a Bottle of Sparkling Wine

At Rack & Riddle during special events - or even for everyday occasions - the preferred method of popping open sparkling wine is sabering. This age-old technique first came about in the Napoleonic era – during wartime celebrations, Napoleon’s cavalry would open bottles of champagne to celebrate, using the sabers they carried.

Today, it’s used as a way to start a party’s festivities by greeting your guests in a memorable, celebratory fashion they won’t soon forget. When celebrating with the best sparkling wines available, why not pop them open with panache?!

Winemaker Penny Gadd-Coster sabers a bottle of sparkling wine.What exactly does sabering entail? Sabrage is the art of opening a sparkling wine or champagne bottle with a saber (sword), by gliding the dull side of the saber along the bottle to pop off the top of the neck. The force of the blade hitting the neck breaks the glass at the neck’s collar, separating the collar/cork from the rest of the bottle. The neck is left open and ready for serving up your bubbly!

Pictured: Penny Gadd-Coster, Rack & Riddle's Executive Director of Winemaking, sabering.

Sabrage is a dangerous activity not to be done without proper training, but after you’ve undergone one-on-one training with a pro, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

1). Chill your bottle overnight in the fridge – doing so will get the bottle down to at least 45 degrees, so it won’t overflow once sabered.

2). Always saber sparkling wine outside. Hold the bottle at a 45 degree angle, away from yourself and others, with at least a 50-foot clearance in front of the bottle.

3). Practice gliding your saber blade along the bottle’s surface up to the neck.

4). Remove the foil, neck label and wirehood.

5). Aim for the bottle seam at the neck (the weakest point) and swiftly glide the blade along the bottle to pop off the top, and be sure to follow through!

6). Enjoy your sabered bottle of bubbly!

Warning: Wear glasses and gloves for safety. You acknowledge that Sabrage is a hazardous recreation activity with risk of damage or personal injury. By following these instructions you accept full responsibility for your own safety, the safety of others and expressly assume all risks of harm, whether foreseen or unforeseen.



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