No need to scream "duck" as you wrench out the cork. Jack Mason, a master sommelier at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in Texas, walks T&C through the proper method for opening a bottle of bubbly.
1. MAKE SURE THE BOTTLE IS CHILLED
The bottle of champagne or sparkling wine should be properly chilled to around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. If it isn't cold enough, the pressure inside the bottle will cause the cork to release very quickly. That's when you get a geyser and a dangerous projectile.
Pro Tip: For a quick way to cool down your bottle (and to keep cold bottles very cold), use a mixture of 50 percent ice and 50 percent water. That liquid mixture means more of the surface area of the bottle is being cooled.
An ice bucket liked this one from Christofle can be used to quickly chill a bottle of champagne.
Christofle Ice Bucket, $710
2. USE A WINE KEY TO CUT OFF THE FOIL BELOW THE LARGE LIP OF THE BOTTLE
Although all sparkling wines have a tab to help open the bottle, most of the time the tab fails to make its way around the bottle leaving an ugly mess of excess foil. Cutting the foil creates an even, clean line around the bottle so that once the foil is removed, the cork and cage are exposed.
Pro Tip: If the wine was in an ice bath, ensure the bottle is dried off so the bottle doesn't slip out of your hands.
3. USE A NAPKIN OR TOWEL.
Fold a napkin or kitchen towel lengthwise and put it over the cage and the cork. This creates another measure safety that can help prevent the cork from flying off like a bullet.
Safety is paramount when opening sparkling wine since the pressure behind the cork is around 90 psi. To put this into perspective, that's three times the pressure of most car tires.
4. UNTWIST THE CAGE COUNTERCLOCKWISE, PUTTING PRESSURE ON THE CORK TO KEEP IT FROM POPPING OUT PREMATURELY.
It's best to hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle. Untwist the "O" six times and then loosen the cage all the way around the bottle.
5. TWIST THE BOTTLE—NOT THE CORK.
Once the cage is loosened, begin to extract the cork by keeping pressure around the cork and twisting the bottle. If you twist the cork, it can break inside the bottle.
6. ONCE THE BOTTLE STARTS TO
LOOSEN FROM THE CORK AND IS ABLE TO SPIN FREELY, BEGIN TO SLOWLY PULL THE CORK AWAY FROM THE BOTTLE.
Do this until the pressure in the bottle begins to push the cork out naturally. Once you feel the cork begin to move on its own, push against the cork gentle to keep it from releasing too quickly.
7. NOW THAT THE PRESSURE OF THE BOTTLE IS DRIVING THE CORK OUT, YOU CAN CONTROL HOW QUICKLY THE CORK SEPARATES ITSELF FROM THE BOTTLE.
The slower the cork separates itself from the bottle, the more gentle the hiss that will occur. People are always wowed when a bottle of sparkling wine is opened with barely a blip—aim for that.
9. ONCE THE CORK IS REMOVED, GIVE THE LIP OF THE BOTTLE A QUICK WIPE AND THEN SERVE IT.
Use your favorite glasses—white wine glasses—not flutes—actually work best.
Riedel Veritas Champagne Wine Glass, Set of Two, $44.32