While almost any way you bust open a bubbly bottle of champagne is exciting, it’s made even more so by using a saber for the task. The art of sabrage may date from the Napoleonic era, when military officers and perhaps The Little Corporal himself, celebrated victories by opening champagne bottles with martial style.
The biggest misconception about using a saber, or sword, to open a bottle of champagne is that you are literally cutting the top of the bottle off. In fact, the saber strikes the glass in such a way that it cracks and the high pressure inside the bottle takes care of the rest. If you don’t have an official champagne saber, or an awesome sword, a heavy kitchen knife will do (but will look significantly less awesome).
A couple things Alton Brown suggests keeping in mind in order to make this celebratory feat both successful and safe: First, make sure the champagne bottle is chilled. It should be anyway, but it ensures the glass is more easily breakable. Second, while all true champagne is technically French, you want to make sure of its pedigree, as they tend to use thicker bottles, which also makes for a cleaner break.
En garde! And drink up!
1: Remove any foil or wire around the cork and the bottle’s neck.
2: Hold the bottle in your non-dominant hand at a 20-degree angle to the ground, with the cork facing away from you and others.
3: Grip the saber so that the blunt, back edge of the saber is facing the bottle’s neck.
4: Slide the saber up the bottle quickly, so that you contact the saber’s back edge to the lip at the top of the bottle. The top should break off cleanly.
5: Pour and enjoy! (Inspect the first 1-2 pours for errant shards of glass.)