Have you ever seen a person open a bottle of champagne with a sword? If so, then you’ve seen champagne sabering in action.
Sabrage, as it’s known, is the practice of using a saber (or sword) to open a bottle of champagne to impress your guests. There’s really no benefit to using a saber to open your champagne over opening it the normal way, but if you’ve ever been to a party and announced that you were going to open a bottle of champagne, nobody bats an eye. Now, if you were to tell everyone you were going to open that same bottle of champagne with a sword, then you’d have all the attention.
That’s really is the only reason anyone would want to open a bottle of champagne with a saber, to impress their guests. It serves no purpose other than providing a spectacle for an otherwise mundane activity.
History of Sabrage
Opening a bottle with a saber dates back to the days of Napoleon. When a battle would be won (or lost) the infantry would use their sabers to open a bottle of champagne. They used their saber because they were able to open the bottles without having to dismount their horse.
Of course, they could probably have just as easily opened the bottle of champagne without using the saber and without dismounting their horses, but rumor has it that using their sabers to open the bottle was really just a way to impress women.
Leave it to men to go out of their way to make a task such as opening a bottle of champagne, more difficult than it needs to be just to impress a woman.
Why Does Sabering Work?
Sabrage works with champagne and sparkling wine due to the pressure of the liquid within the bottle. The carbonation within the bottle builds up after it is corked which means than any slight crack in the bottle can cause it to break.
By using a saber and sliding it upwards along the neck of the bottle, you can strike it at just the right area to cause the bottle to crack and release that pressure. This will cause the top of the bottle to break off and release the champagne.
Take note, you will probably lose quite a bit of drinkable champagne if you do this method, unless you are a professional or have practiced quite a bit. Most of the time the saber blade hits the wrong part of the bottle, or too far down on the neck, which can cause a large spillover of champagne.
However, after lots of practice you can find the sweet spot of any bottle and minimize the amount of liquid that is lost when the bottle breaks.
Somehow, I don’t think that Napoleon’s troops were too worried about spilling a little bit of champagne on the battlefield though.
Can You Use a Saber to Open a Bottle of Wine?
Many of you may be wondering if you can use a saber to open a bottle of wine, instead of champagne, and the answer is, sort of.
The only wine that can be opened with a saber is sparkling wine, which is just champagne made outside of the Champagne region of France.
As long as the sparkling wine is carbonated and has those fizzy bubbles we all love, then it can be opened with a saber because the contents are under pressure.
A normal bottle of your favorite cabernet sauvignon cannot be opened with a saber as its contents are not under pressure in the bottle.
You can certainly try to open the wine bottle with a sword, but it’s going to be quite difficult and you’ll probably just end up breaking the bottle and hurting yourself, so we definitely don’t recommend it.
Having the contents of the bottle under such pressure is what allows it to be opened using the saber method. Without that pressure a small crack in the bottle is not going to cause the top to pop off like it would with champagne.
It’s the same reason that when you open a bottle of wine with a cork, it doesn’t pop off like a the cork on a bottle of champagne does.
Pressure is the key.
Sabering a Champagne Bottle – How To
If you’re thinking about adding a little flair to your next party and want to open a bottle of champagne with a sword, it’s not difficult to do, but it is hard to master.
As we mentioned above, you’re going to end up losing a lot of liquid the first few times you do it, due to the bottle breaking at the wrong points, or holding the bottle wrong.
The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure that your bottle is cold. You’ll get a much cleaner break if the bottle, especially the neck, is cold.
Next, you need to remove the foil and the cage from around the cork at the top of the bottle. You want to do whatever you can to make it easier to “pop”.
You need to have the bottle clear of any labels or sticker residue along the neck where you’ll be sliding the saber. You don’t want anything that could cause you not to have a smooth motion.
Next you’ll need to find the seam of the bottle. This is where the two halves of the bottle come together. Make sure the seam is pointing up and hold the bottle at a 45 degree angle, facing the opening up and away from you.
Holding the saber in one hand, and the bottle, with one thumb in the bottom and the other fingers around the bottle side of the bottle, you’ll want to rub the back of the saber along the seam on the neck in one fluid motion, making contact with the lip of the bottle.
If you’ve done it correctly it should cause the bottle to pop open at the top.
Be careful when trying to open any sort of bottle with a saber or a knife as they can be extremely sharp and dangerous if not done correctly.
This is a great party trick to show your guests, but it will make a mess, so be sure you’re outside when you do it!
If you’re looking for a great bottle of sparkling wine to try your hand at sabering with, we recommend trying our Treana Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine!