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How to Open a Bottle of Champagne Like a Pro: Wine Experts Share the Easy Secrets

Plus the hammer trick experts say you should never try

Nothing jazzes up a gathering quite like a bottle of bubbly! This sparkling wine is popular to serve for special occasions, but the mood can quickly be dashed if you can’t get the bottle open in time to make a toast. Even worse: Being the recipient of a cork to the head or ending up with an overflowing bottle that’s wasting your supply due to the cork being extracted improperly. So we asked wine experts how to open champagne the right way, so you can get straight to the festivities, incident- and mess-free!

How to open champagne the right way

Filling up glasses after knowing how to open champagne

“Champagne and sparkling wine are made for celebration, which is why it is so important to learn how to execute a proper bottle open when entertaining,” says Eva Horton, owner of Flat Creek Estate and Winery. “Nothing is worse in a room full of guests than a flying cork or a champagne splash.” While you don’t need a special tool to open the bottle, it’s still important to follow the right steps to avoid any mishaps or messes.

How to open champagne step 1: Chill the bottle

A room-temperature bottle can lead to pressure buildup and an infamous bottle spray. You can avoid it by ensuring your bottle of champagne is chilled (ideally at 45°F) well before serving. “This will prevent a squirt of liquid as you open sparkling wine or champagne,” says Horton.

How to open champagne step 2: Take off the foil

Start by removing the foil from the top of the neck, which usually has a pull tab to make things easier. Next, you’ll need to remove the cage. Use one hand to loosely cover the top, then pull out the looped wire of the cage and untwist it six times. “The covering hand is there in case the bottle was warm or agitated and the cork wants to jump out — safety first of course,” advises Annie Edgerton, a 30-year veteran of the wine and spirits industry and writer for Flat Iron Wines & Spirits.

How to open champagne step 3: Remove the cork

*Note: Only do so when you’re ready to serve your bubbly. Cover the cork and cage with a towel to protect your hand, and also be sure you’re pointing the bottle slightly away from you at an angle. The other reason to keep it tilted? “Holding the bottle at a 45-degree angle also helps to lower the risk of the sparkling from frothing over,” says winemaker and wine educator Lori Budd of Dracaena Wines.

TIP: While you may be tempted to twist the cork to remove it, the pros say the key is to twist the bottle. Not only does this make it easier, it also prevents the cork from accidentally breaking inside the bottle, shares Horton. Keep twisting until you hear a gentle pop or hiss, which means the cork has finally come out! Some corks are easier to remove than others, so you might have to keep working at turning the bottle.

The experts at Wine Folly walk you through the cork removal process in the video below:

A serving tip: “Taking your time with the champagne pour and letting it spill down the side of a glass will settle the bubbles down faster,” shares David Weitzenhoffer, owner of Community Wine & Spirits.

How to open a wine bottle

Opening a wine bottle

Whether you’re looking to mix up some sangria or want to serve wine for a wine tasting or other gathering, you may want to know the secrets to getting the bottle open as easily as possible.

First, it comes down to having the right tool. “A good old-fashioned waiter’s corkscrew is just about the best you can do,” says Weitzenhoffer.

Besides pulling out the cork, the corkscrew can come in handy in another way too. “You can use the corkscrew’s blade to help you lift up and peel off that top foil,” shares Edgerton. Simply lift out the small serrated blade of the corkscrew, hold it under the lip of the neck of the bottle and run it around to cut through the foil. Just be sure to exercise caution as both the blade and cut foil can be sharp!

Next, lift out the screw so it’s perpendicular to the handle and (with gentle pressure) push it into the center of the top of the cork. Twist until two-thirds of the screw is in the cork. “Tilt the hinged edge down to the lip of the bottle — some without a hinge may need to have the coil extracted a bit for better leverage so you don’t break the cork,” explains Edgerton. “Place the notched edge on the lip and gently pull up from the handle/center.” If the cork is giving you a bit of grief, continue to go slowly and twist or untwist the worm (the coil) as needed. The cork will come out smoothly so you can enjoy your wine!

For the best flavor: “Once open, if you can put it in a decanter, your wine will open up faster,” adds Weitzenhoffer. This means the aroma of the wine will become more enjoyable and intense. No decanter on hand? A vase or water pitcher will do!

How to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew

You can’t wait to serve the new bottle of wine you snagged for a steal only to realize your corkscrew is nowhere to be found. Thankfully, you’re not out of luck. All you need is a spare key!

Opening a bottle of wine with a key

“At a 45-degree angle, push a key into the cork and move it in a circle,” shares Anne Morin, co-founder of Armchair Sommelier. “What you’re doing is twisting the cork out slowly. After a couple twists, the cork should come out.” You can then pull the cork out with a towel or a rubber gripper you would use to open a jar. While this trick works great, be careful not to wiggle the cork too much or use too much force, as this could lead to a broken key or cork! (Click through for more clever ways to remove a cork without a corkscrew).

How to deal with a broken cork

Yikes! Despite being extra careful while extracting the cork, it still ended up breaking while trying to open the bottle. Most of the time, it’s best to just reinsert the corkscrew into the cork and slowly pull the corkscrew — along with the cork — out of the bottle.

No luck? “If you have to push the cork into the bottle, we recommend pouring the wine through a coffee filter or into a decanter,” adds Morin. The coffee filter will also work if the cork broke and crumbled inside the bottle.

What *not* to do to when opening champagne and wine

When many people think of champagne, they picture a flying cork that comes out in the excitement of celebration. While this method (known as sabering) may seem fun, the pros say that it is best avoided in the context of your own home.

“As the bottle’s contents are under pressure, this can be very dangerous, so you absolutely need to be guided by a professional,” says Edgerton. “Also, be wary of YouTube videos; a lot of those folks teach it wrong!” Even when following the appropriate steps described above you still want to exercise caution to prevent any injuries. That’s why it’s best to keep your hand and/or a towel over the cork when twisting.

Another hack to avoid? One seen in this popular video from Jonathan Scott of the Property Brothers, using a screwdriver, screw and a hammer to remove the cork in a pinch. Morin cautions that this trick is one to skip! “It’s dangerous if not done right and likely to end in broken glass, flying corks and a potentially ruined party.”

For drink tips and ideas, keep reading below!

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