Bottom Line/Personal: There’s probably a million YouTubes out there showing how to open a bottle of champagne. Let’s do it for real.
Amy Dixon: Exactly. One of the things that’s totally cringe-worthy for me as a sommelier and a wine expert is watching people pop a bottle of Champagne. And while that is a wonderful ceremonious procedure to make that explosive pop, you are damaging the wine by doing that. You are losing all of those wonderful, precious millions of bubbles that have been contained in that bottle for months, if not years, at a time.
So you want to avoid losing that acidity and you want to avoid losing those bubbles by doing it as gently as you possibly can. In the wine industry, we call it the “Champagne sigh.” It should literally be like a sigh when you gently open the bottle, and it just lets a slight amount of air out, like a gentle sigh.
Bottom Line: Before you go to open it—or you could start opening it while I’ll chat with you while you open-is there anything in the storage of the Champagne or anything that would make a bottle of Champagne more or less prone to explosion?
Dixon: Yes. Not being properly chilled. Your Champagne should be on ice, in ice cold water, up to the neck of the bottle-this is the neck-for at least half an hour before you serve it. Ideally for an hour.
Bottom Line: If it came from room temperature into ice water for a half hour, that’s enough?
Bottom Line: So it doesn’t have to be stored in the refrigerator?
Bottom Line: Before I decide, if I’ve got a bottle of Champagne in my house or somebody brought it to me and it has been sitting in my house, where should I be storing that?
Dixon: You should be storing it just like you store your other wines-on its side and in a cool, dark place.
Bottom Line: All right, good.
Dixon: So let’s drink some Champagne.
Bottom Line: Let’s drink Champagne.
Dixon: Let’s do it. This is called the foil, which is on the top of the bottle, and we’re going to take the foil off first. As pretty as it is, it’s time for it to go because we need some access to our bubbles. This is a particular producer that I’m fond of. This is called Nicolas Feuillatte. Lovely Champagne house. And this is the foil—we’re just going to put this down right over here and move some of our foil out of the way.
And this is called the cage. We’ve removed the foil, now we have the cage. This is this twist-off. Make sure that you’re not pointing it—God forbid it is too warm or hasn’t been chilled properly, it will explode. So you want to make sure that you’re holding your finger over the top, and you’re disengaging the cage. And this is the cage. We’re going to give it one, two, three, four turns, and now my cage is off. I’m not pointing it at you, I promise. I’m blind—you don’t need to be blind, too. That would just be a disaster.
And now we’re going to do our Champagne sigh. So you want to think about holding the cork and twisting the bottle and not the cork. So hold the cork steady, and very slowly rotate your bottle…there we go, and gentle. And control the explosion by gently sighing. And that’s it. And see, only a little bit of steam came out of the top, and that’s as explosive as your Champagne celebration should be.
You want to go dump it over your head like a NASCAR driver, be my guest. But please be gentle about how you open it. So let’s drink some Champagne, shall we?
Bottom Line: Perfect.
Dixon: Yes. Cheers.
Bottom Line: Cheers.