How to Open Champagne

11/04/2011 10:52 am ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012
  • Kitchen Daily

Learn how to open a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine with these tips from John Fischer of The Culinary Institute of America. Though dramatic, a flying cork can be highly dangerous. By using a napkin, twisting carefully and paying attention to pressure, you can open your champagne safely. Fischer -- the Associate Professor in Hospitality and Service Management -- also offers tips on how to pour the champagne to the proper level within your glass.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript


I'm John Fischer from the Culinary Institute of America, where I teach service and wine, and I'm here to show you this kitchen basic: how to safely and properly open a bottle of sparkling wine.

One of the first things you'll need to have, when you're opening a bottle of sparkling wine, is a napkin - or a towel or some piece of fabric - to keep the cork from flying out. First open your napkin, put your hand in the middle, then pull out your wine and get ready to go.

Look for the rip cord and pull it out. Take the foil off. Now, this is the cage. The first thing I do is I put my thumb on the cork through the napkin, and I undo the cage. Pull that key down, twist it, and now the cage is loosened.

I'm not going to take the napkin off or take the cage off, because that's when the cork can fly out. Pull the napkin over the top, and switch your grip to thumb and forefinger. Because the bottom of the bottle has a greater circumference than the cork, you have better leverage if you turn the bottle. So I'm holding the cork, but turning the bottle. Usually I turn the bottle towards me, and as soon as I feel the cork starting to push its way out, I'm going to hold the cork in.

I feel it pushing now. I hold it tightly because you don't want it to pop out; you want it just to come out gently and slowly so you get a little bit of a noise like this. [Gentle hissing] There you go!

The first time you put any of the wine in the glass it foams up a lot, so you do what we call priming the glass. That means you pour it in just enough so that it foams up - and then you stop. So you stop and wait a minute until it goes back down. As opposed to regular wine, where you never fill the wine glass to the top so people can swirl, you do fill a champagne glass to the top, or almost to the top. Pour slowly so the foam won't go over the top. And there you go.

So now that you know how to properly and safely open a bottle of sparkling wine, it's time to enjoy a glass.