As cinematic and celebratory as it may seem to loudly pop a cork and spray frothy bubbles, few of us want to waste wine or clean up the aftermath. Fortunately, it’s easy to learn how to open a bottle of Champagne and not lose a drop or dodge projectiles.
Here are five steps to open a bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine like a pro.
Step 1: Chill Your Champagne
The best temperature to serve Champagne and other sparkling wine is 41–45°F, though some drink vintage Champagne at 45–50°F to enhance its bready flavors. Most home refrigerators are kept below 40°F, so if you’re grabbing a bottle straight from the fridge, give it a few moments to come to temperature.
Either way, a well-chilled bottle is vital for both flavor and function.
“Warm bubbles are agitated bubbles, so Champagne that’s too warm will almost always vigorously spew out of the bottle,” says Davon D. E. Hatchett, a wine writer, wine law attorney and content creator. “Properly chilled bubbles typically remain calmer, and therefore remain inside where you want them.”
Hatchett wraps a cold towel around the neck of her bottle right before she opens it.
“The cold glass of the neck creates a temperature barrier that keeps the pressure in the remainder of the bottle more controlled,” she says. It becomes less likely that any bubbles will escape when you pull out the cork. “The last thing I want to do is spill any of that precious elixir.”
Step 2: Dry the Bottle
Chilled bottles can be damp from condensation, which can make a firm grip difficult. Wipe the bottle dry with a clean towel or cloth so you can hold it steady.
Step 3: Untie the Cage
The cage, or muselet, is the wire contraption atop the cork of a bottle of sparkling wine. It might seem intuitive to take it off before you remove the cork, but William Edwards, the beverage director at Manhatta in New York City, advises otherwise.
Edwards drapes a towel or serviette over the cork and cage. He then unties the cage with his off hand while his dominant hand exerts steady downward pressure on the cork.