How to pop a cork with a sword (the delicate art of Sabrage)

Are you willing to give champagne sabering a go? We’ve got the essential tips to help you perform this precision move with Napoleonic flair.

The noble art of Sabrage was an outlandish tactic first employed by Napoleon’s cavalry, who used their weapon of choice, the sabre sword, to behead not only the enemy, but also the bottles of champagne they quaffed with victorious jubilance. While it may seem to be an impatient method of decapitating your bubbles, the art of Sabrage is one worth mastering if an upcoming celebration is deemed worthy of such fanfare.

Follow our steps to ensure Sabrage success, and trust us, it isn’t as hard as it might seem:

1. Choose your weapon.
Ensure you have a well-chilled bottle of champagne (not sparkling wine as the glass quality isn’t up to par) to work with. Set the bottle upside down in a cooler of ice and water for a minimum of 5 minutes prior to ensure as clean a break as possible. In keeping with tradition, we opted for a bottle of G.H. Mumm champagne, due to the champagne house’s colourful Sabrage history.

2. Disrobe the champagne.
Strip it of its shiny foil and reattach the protective cage to the top part of the cork and lip. You want to up your chance of sabering success by ensuring an even surface. A clean break is the aim here.

3. Locate the seam.
This involves seeking out one of the two vertical seams that run up the side of the bottle towards the lip. Where the seam meets the lower lip is where you should be aiming your Sabrage sword.

4. Get a grip.
Grasp the bottle firmly around the base and place your thumb inside the punt. Ensure the bottle is dry before beginning, as any bottle moisture could result in a slip of the hand. Point the neck up and away from any thirsty revelers, windows and family heirlooms. For those requiring technical guidance, you should be aiming for a 30-45 degree angle.

5. Commit and conquer.
Much like playing a backhand in tennis, run your sabre along the neck a short way towards your body. Then in one steady movement, move the sword (blunt side first) back towards the top of the bottle, striking the sweet spot between seam and lip precisely (not too hard or risk shattering the glass). The cork will, with a small ring of glass around it, shoot off the end of the bottle. Expect it to fly for a good 5 metres if executed correctly.

6. The aftermath.
Have plenty of flutes on hand to catch the spilling champagne and hope that a fellow reveller captured your Sabrage flair on video.

Watch the illustrated video below to see how Sabrage is best executed:

G. H. Mumm

Bon Vivant

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