Sabering champagne is a fun and unique way to open a bottle of bubbly. It involves removing the cork and collar from a bottle of champagne by using a saber or sword to strike the glass lip.
So, Are Champagne Sabers Sharp?
Champagne sabers are actually not very sharp. This is important because the main idea when using a champagne saber is to use speed and force to cause the glass bottle to break open at a weak point in the neck. You aren’t actually ‘cutting’ into the glass bottle at all.
But have you ever wondered why a saber wouldn’t be sharp in the first place? In this article, I’ll hit some highlights on the history of sabers and explain more about why it’s not necessary preferable for them to be sharp for sabering champagne (nor for attacking a foe while on horseback, though I do hope you won’t need it for that purpose).
History Check: Were Cavalry Sabers Sharp or Dull?
Cavalry sabers were historically used to charge enemy troops. The sabers were designed to have a slightly curved blade, with a thick spine on one edge and a sharper edge opposite.
However, the edge was not sharp like a razor blade. That’s because blades that are very sharp are usually brittle and weak, and prone to breaking with significant force. Sabre blades had to be durable enough to withstand the rigors of battle.
So, while the blade was sharp enough to cut through skin with a lot of force applied, it was not sharp enough to cleanly slice through an object like a chef’s knife does.
A quick note on spelling: In British English, the spelling convention is champagne sabre or champagne sabres. The meaning is the same, but I’ll stick to the American spelling for purposes of this article.
Were sabers sharp during the Napoleonic wars?
During the same period, champagne was becoming increasingly popular among French aristocrats. To celebrate victories in battle, of course they would drink champagne, and they would saber open the bottles with the swords that they had used while charging into battle.
During this time frame following the French revolution, champagne bottles did not yet have a wire cage to hold the cork in place. Typically a thick wax was used (at times also supplemented by rope), so it was not as easy as it is now to open champagne bottles.
Eventually this became a tradition, and it was a way for soldiers to win the favor of noblewomen. However, the sabers they used were not necessarily sharp. The popularity of the tradition led to the mass production of champagne sabers. These were initially made by blacksmiths and cutlers, but they eventually became more mass-produced. These sabers had a blunt edge and were modeled after the original cavalry sabers.
Why Champagne Sabers Are Not Be Sharp
In modern times, champagne sabers do not need to be sharpened. The ideal blade for sabering champagne is still slightly curved, with a blunt edge that will solidly impact but won’t actually cut through the bottle neck.
A dull blade is actually better because a sharp blade can cause dangerous shattering, which could result in injuries to the person holding the bottle or bystanders. Champagne bottles are built to withstand considerable pressure and force, so they need a little extra encouragement to open than just the pressure from a cork. A dull blade directs the force of the blow onto the glass lip, causing it to break cleanly, sending the cork and collar flying.
Why Sabering A Champagne Bottle With A Sharp Sword Is Dangerous
Sabering a champagne bottle with a sharp blade is actually quite dangerous and should be avoided. A sharp blade can slice the glass at the bottle’s neck, creating dangerous shards of glass that could injure the person performing the sabering or anyone standing nearby. So, while it may sound logical to use a sharp blade for sabering champagne, it is not necessary and is, in fact, dangerous.
Tips on How to Saber Champagne Bottles
Sabering champagne is an art, so we created an entire article on how to saber champagne. I suggest checking that out if you want more detail, but here’s a quick overview of how it works.
To get started, ensure you have a sharp and long knife with a wide blade. Choose the right spot on the bottle to make the sabering easier, typically around the neck of the bottle where the seam in the glass is located.
Hold the blade at about 45-degrees angled away from yourself and firmly grasp the bottom of the bottle. Keep the bottle at around 30-45 degrees as well, because if you tilt it to much to the side you’ll spill more champagne once the bottle is open.
Slide the blade up along the glass towards the top of the bottle with force, aiming it directly at your chosen spot and following through as if the lip of the bottle wasn’t there at all. If done correctly, the pressure inside should cause an explosion of sparkling wine as the cork is ejected and you can pour out glasses for everyone to enjoy.
Choosing a Champagne Saber
A champagne saber, sometimes called a champagne sword, is basically a ceremonial sword for marking special occasions or celebrations. So it is important to consider the style and design of the saber that best compliments your own aesthetic (or that of the occasion in question). Different sabers come in several sizes and colors, so you should select one that fits your individual taste.
As we discussed above, since sabers aren’t actually sharp, you can theoretically ‘saber’ a bottle with any similar shaped object, so there’s a good amount of flexibility in choosing your form factor. In a pinch, some people use the blunt side (back side) of a heavy chef’s knife to do the trick.
Additionally, it is important to think about what type of material the saber is made of—many options are available, including stainless steel, brass, copper, and aluminum. Consider also whether you would prefer an engraved or plain finish.
Finally, make sure the handle feels comfortable to hold and that the blade is sharp enough for cutting through a champagne cork easily.
By taking time to research all your options and choose carefully, you can find the right champagne saber that suits both your style as well as practical needs. You can find our reviews of the best champagne sabers here.
In conclusion, sabering champagne is a unique and exciting way to celebrate an achievement or special occasion. While champagne swords were once used in battle, they do not need to be sharp for the purpose of popping a bottle of bubbly
In fact, having a dull blade is actually much better when it comes to avoiding accidents or injuries. Ultimately, while it is a fun and trendy tradition, it’s important to prioritize safety and use caution when sabering champagne. Cheers!