When I first heard about champagne sabers and sabering champagne, I couldn’t really make sense of it. How would it even be possible that this mystical ‘champagne sword’ is so sharp that it can slice straight through glass to open up a bottle of champagne?
Well I had a lot to learn, and now I’m happy to share the facts with you.
What is a champagne saber used for?
A champagne saber is a type of ceremonial sword that is used to open bottles of champagne in a fun and dramatic way.
However, a champagne saber does not actually cut the glass bottle. Instead, it applies pressure to weak spots in the glass to help the bottle neck break on its own.
The idea of opening a champagne bottle with a sword sounded ridiculous when I first heard about it, but now that I’ve learned how it works (and how much fun it is) I try to open bottles with a saber whenever I get the chance.
Champagne sabers were first used around the time of Napoleon following the French revolution. At the time, it was an easier way for the French army to crack open celebratory bottles while on horseback.
Today, champagne sabers are used for fun and tradition.
What is a champagne saber exactly? What does it look like?
A champagne saber is essentially a long knife with a curved blade (you could also call it a short sword) that is used to open champagne bottles dramatically. Usually short blades are used for champagne sabres (compared to how you might typically imagine a sword), because it keeps the weight down and makes it easier and safer to use.
The process involves sliding the saber across the neck of the bottle, sending the cork flying and the champagne flowing. Although it might sound complicated, it’s a simple process, and with practice, you too can saber a bottle.
Today a champagne saber is not a weapon, at least not an optimal one in terms of its design and weight. However, you could certainly hurt someone seriously if you aren’t careful with it so always use caution.
How does a champagne saber work?
The science behind how the champagne saber works lies in the glass bottle itself. The pressure inside is released through the point of the saber hitting the neck, snapping the weakest point of the bottle and breaking the glass in a clean and swift manner.
Depending on how you execute the maneuver, the cork shoots high into the sky and the champagne explodes into a dramatic spray of bubbles. It’s an impressive way to open the bottle, especially when you are hosting a party of champagne lovers!
Can you open a champagne bottle without a champagne saber?
Yes, of course you can certainly open a bottle of champagne without a saber. In fact, it’s easier, less messy, and you can avoid spilling any champagne if you carefully open a bottle by hand. If I was opening a special bottle and wanted to enjoy every drop, I would open it by hand.
That said, while it’s certainly possible to open a champagne bottle without a champagne saber, it doesn’t have that same level of excitement or theatrical impact. The traditional method can still get the job done, but it doesn’t have the flare that a champagne saber does.
For this reason, most people use champagne sabers only on special occasions that call for a bit of extra flare. If you’re planning to drink champagne at a quiet dinner at home, there’s no real need to break out a saber to open that bottle. However, if you’re feeling like a bit of extra fun don’t let the lack of necessity stop you!
Sabering champagne vs. opening champagne bottles normally
Champagne sabering and opening a champagne bottle by hand are entirely different methods. When you traditionally open a bottle, the cork slowly eases out of the top, with a gentle pop sound and no liquid overflowing from the bottle.
On the other hand, sabering quickly and instantly releases the pressure inside the bottle, often creating a significant explosion of bubbles. Therefore, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the basics of both techniques so that you can choose the appropriate method for your setting and occasion.
Choosing a good champagne saber or champagne sword
When choosing a champagne saber, there are different styles to consider. It’s essential to choose a saber that fits your preferences and is comfortable to use. For example, some sabers are made of stainless steel, while others are made of more premium metals.
The best champagne sabers are usually weighted ergonomically and have a balanced blade, providing greater control during the sabering process. Additionally, look for features such as rings or textured grips for added comfort. Finally, if you plan to use your saber often, make sure it’s made of durable and rust-resistant materials so that it will last.
It’s also essential to choose a saber with a dull edge (any true champagne saber should already be made this way). It’s important to avoid knives or swords with a sharp blade as it will not work the same, and risks chipping the blade and shattering the glass into small shards that are extremely difficult to clean up. Don’t ask me how I know…
Learn How To Saber Champagne
Before sabering champagne, ensure that the bottle is chilled to the appropriate temperature, and the foil has been removed.
To saber the champagne, hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle and locate the body seam where the bottle meets the lip.
Then, find a vertical line on the bottle that runs from the seam to the top. This is where you’ll want to position the blade of the saber.
Next, slide the champagne sabre along the bottle’s neck, firmly tapping the lip to expose the cork, and watch it fly!
Pro tip: once the cork is removed, pour out a little champagne around the neck of the bottle before filling your guests’ glasses just to be sure any leftover glass shards are removed.
Cracking a champagne bottle open with a saber is not only fun and impressive, but it’s also an easy process that anyone can learn. With a bit of practice, you can do it like a professional and impress your guests.
But remember, safety is always a priority, so be sure to choose the right champagne saber and practice with several bottles safely before your big moment. I recommend practicing with sparkling wines, as sparkling wines are often less expensive but should work just the same as long as they are shaped like a champagne bottle.
Cheers to you, and happy sabering!