This Matter of Uncorking Champagne

For some reason, the chore of uncorking a bottle of sparkling wine intimidates some people. They sort of quietly pass on the re­sponsibility to another in the group! (and thus never learn how to do it well).

Then… there are those who tackle it head on, and sort of think that popping it is the right way. The louder the bang the better. They lose part of the contents of the bottle in the ceremony. The pop and the gush become the celebra­tion ritual (as you would expect from the sport team locker room, after a championship game has been won, and the champagne flows over the heads of the players just before they shower!). Hey… sport… if you want to do it that way, it’s o.k…

But let’s look at the other way…

The way to:

Not grimace as you do it.

Not break any window panes or mar the ceiling.

Not lose most of the bubbles, and drink them instead.

Not be intimidated by the task.

First you need a positive atti­tude. Approach the bottle with confidence, and do not let it bully you!

Naturally, the bottle should be well chilled. The dissolved gas in the form of natural carbonation will escape very fast at room tem­perature, and you might be left with still wine very soon after uncorking

Try not to shake or jostle the bottle while fetching it or while, holding it ready for uncorking. Again, loss of carbonation can oc­cur. (Remember the locker room scene!) It is not a struggle, and does not have to be one.

Neatly tear the foil paper at the neck, just below the wires that hold the cork in place. Usually a pull tab exists for this purpose, or trim it below the wire loop that bulges underneath the foil.

Untwist the wire loop to loos­en it, and expand the wire closure that secures the cork. With practice you can lift this intact every time. (The habit of bending the wire loop back and forth, to break it, is not necessary. It is so much neater to lift it intact after untying it. Less chance of cutting yourself on the wire!)

Now here is the trick! Hold the cork firmly in your stronger hand and do not allow it to turn, while you rotate the bottle with your oth­er hand. Slowly pull on the cork while you are turning the bottle, As you feel the cork moving out of the neck, slow the process down so the extraction is a gentle exit of the cork. Your pop will be mini­mal… and your sparkling wine will have all the sparkle still in so­lution, to enjoy in the glass.

Pour the sparkling wine or cham­pagne gently, again to preserve as much of the bubbles in solution.

Voila… a real pro!


PK Jr.

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