How to Open Champagne

Every New Year’s Eve, many people wonder how to open champagne. During a recent visit to Domaine Chandon in Napa Valley, I learned the proper method for opening bubbly. The winery is well known for its sparkling wines, made in the classic French methode champenoise style.

1. Before opening champagne, be sure your bottle is chilled to about 45-55 degrees. I like to fill my ice bucket with half ice cubes and half cold water and chill the bottle for about 30 minutes. You can also chill the wine in the refrigerator for about 3 hours.
2. Once the bottle is chilled, dry it with a towel and remove the foil over the cork. Leave the wire hood intact. You should never use a corkscrew to open a champagne bottle.
3. Grab the neck of the bottle with your left hand and place your thumb over the top of the cork. 
4. Tilt the bottle away from you at a 45-degree angle, pressing the bottom of the bottle against your body.
5. Next, use your free hand to pull down the wire tab and untwist it counter clockwise until it is loose.
6. Now, with a firm grasp still on the cork, slowly twist the bottle and tilt the cork slightly to let gas escape. The pressure of the bubbles should push the cork out safely.

If, for some reason, the cork will not release, try running the neck of the bottle under hot water. Freshly opened champagne, if sealed properly, will keep three days in the refrigerator.