Whether by sending a Champagne cork flying into one of Grandma’s antique vases, or by spilling a waterfall of bubbles onto your kitchen floor, we’ve almost all been guilty of opening a bottle of Champagne the wrong way. To ensure that there are fewer accidents when you decide to serve yourself or others a festive glass of bubbly, we created this list of common mistakes and addressed how to prevent them. From making a cacophonous “pop” to leaving a bottle unattended without its cage or foil to prevent an accident, here are the eight mistakes to avoid when opening Champagne.
You’re “Popping” the Bottle
While you may be tempted to send the Champagne cork soaring through the air and make it rain bubbles like they do in hip hop videos, whatever you do, don’t pop that bottle. It’s loud, obnoxious, and will waste your precious, effervescent tipple (that foam is drinkable booze).
You’re Not Holding the Bottle at a 45 Degree Angle
You should not only tilt the Champagne bottle at a 45 degree angle when opening (it’s safer)—you should also always tilt the glass at a 45 degree angle when pouring. This angle will greatly reduce the loss of CO2 gas, resulting in the most vibrantly fizzy wine possible. Pouring a bottle of Champagne directly into the flute (at a 90 degree angle) will create a thick head (or mousse) of bubbles, which will disrupt the steady stream of bubbles in the glass.
You’re Twisting the Bottle Instead of the Cork
To avoid a massive eruption of foam—and to save someone around you from being injured accidentally—you should always twist the cork from the bottle into your hand. After removing the foil and releasing the cork from its metal cage, grasp the cork in one hand and keep the other hand firmly on the base of the bottle. Keep the bottle at a 45 degree angle (steadied) and twist the cork slowly into your palm. The cork should be gently (and soundlessly) released into your hand—with no spray or mess to mop up.
You Aren’t Keeping Your Thumb Over the Cork
Keeping your thumb over the cork while you open the bottle will prevent the cork from accidentally shooting out, and give you more control over the cork as you remove it. It will also make it less likely that someone around you will be injured by a flying cork of death.
You Aren’t Chilling Your Bottle Long Enough Before Serving
Unless you enjoy warm, flat Champagne, your bottle should always be chilled before serving. The optimal temperature for any sparkling wine is 47 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature the wine is likely to have crisper, tighter bubbles, and the best aroma and taste. But never, ever, ever put your Champagne bottle in the freezer to chill—unless you want an explosion of thick, gnarly, extremely sharp glass in your kitchen.
You Try to Saber Even Though You Don’t Know How
Yes, sabering looks cool. You are literally opening a bottle of Champagne with a sword. But it is also dangerous if not done correctly. By sabering incorrectly, you could send that thick glass top shooting at high velocity towards something breakable or someone else’s face (or you could also just cause the entire bottle to explode in your hands). Before you saber a bottle of Champagne, read into the techniques on how to do so. Your guests will be a lot more impressed if you saber safely.
You Are Pointing the Bottle at Something or Someone Valuable
If you are only an occasional bubbly drinker you might not know that Champagne is bottled before it completes fermentation. Not only is there natural carbon dioxide in the bottle, but often gas is added after the wine finishes fermentation. What this means is that the contents in the bottle are under a lot of pressure— and extremely volatile. If you pop the cork without any control or guidance, you could injure yourself, those around you, or break something. As a general rule, don’t open Champagne aimed towards another person, towards your own face (even if the cork won’t come out) or at anything that can be broken.
You Left a Partially Opened Bottle of Champagne Unattended
You should never take the cage off a bottle of Champagne and walk away. Not only will this make everyone in the room extremely nervous—that pressurized bottle could be a ticking time bomb—someone could accidentally bump into the bottle and send the cork flying. Or, the cork could wiggle its way out of the bottle with the high pressure beneath it and shoot out like a bullet uncontrollably. Whenever you open the foil and the cage on a bottle of Champagne, make sure to finish opening the bottle completely.