Sabering Champagne

Alton-with-SaberNapoleon is known to have said “Champagne, in victory you deserve it, in defeat you need it.” And he should know. As his light calvary units stylishly charged around Europe in the early 19th century they drank a great deal of the stuff, or so legend states. Being typically in a rush and not wishing to fuss with more traditional modes of cork removal, these rakish lads got in the habit of simply lopping the tops of the bottles off with their sabers. The art of sabrage or “sabering” might seem a quaint anachronism were it not for the fact that deftly and nonchalantly displaying skill at this bit of lethal legerdemain tells everyone in your party that you have a saber, you aren’t afraid to use it, and there’s champagne. In this day and age I can think of few reasons more noble.

Since we live in an the age litigator – I’ll go ahead and tell you right now that under no condition do I advocate you attempting to undertake this desperately dangerous display of panache. Odds are you’re not cool enough anyway and will just come off looking like a dope with a fistful of glass standing in a bubbly puddle.

Start with a bottle of french champagne because they use thicker glass and that’ll make for a cleaner annulus or ring of glass. Take the bottle to be sabered and turn upside down in ice for at least 10 minutes. You want the neck as cold as possible. Meanwhile we’ll review some physics.
Due to a secondary fermentation inside the bottle, Carbon dioxide produced by live yeast builds up pressure typically in the range of 5 to 6 atmospheres, that’s 90 pounds of pressure per square inch which translates to 620 kiloPascals. In other words, a corked champagne bottle is a bomb waiting to go off. The point is focus and control the blast to get at the stuff inside. This can be done by applying a sharp blow here where one of the bottle seams meats the lip of the bottle or annulus…stop snickering! This is serious business. Said blow must be focused, resulting from a smooth, rapid movement of a metal object. I’ve seen it done with a lawn mower blade but why use such a rare object when you’ve got a saber hanging around?

Now, remove the outer foil from the bottle and the cage, that wire thingy that keeps the cork from just blowing out whenever it feels like.Locate one of the two seams and use either your finger or a spoon to scrape away any foil or paper that remains leaving a clean trail to the annulus. Stop snickering!

Dry the bottle thoroughly and hold in your non dominant hand with your thumb in the punt. What are you laughing at!? This will place the bottle at oh, a 30 degree angle and it keeps your hand out of the way of your magnificently sharp saber. I should add that any sword with a gentle sweep or crescent blade will do the trick so feel free to use your scimitar, or even your katana but not a Hattori Hanzo the edge of which should be kept razor sharp at all times. I like to lay a clean towel, or serviette over my hand here just in case a cleanup is warranted. Lay the blade flat against the glass midway up the bottle. Doesn’t matter if you use the back or edge of the blade, both will work. Lift the back ever so slightly and then swing through…like a golf swing meaning don’t try to stop at the contact point.
make sure you saber away from populated areas as the pressure in the bottle will turn the cork and annulus into a projectile…stop snickering.
Done properly the break will be completely clean but you should always inspect the glass for shards. And do be careful pouring as the broken bit of neck could be sharp.

19.5 feet. A record. Please dispose of this properly. Actually you won’t have to because you’re not going to do this. Right? Right.


Were Champagne glasses were modeled on Marie Antoinette’s breasts?

Woman-in-Champagne-GlassThe search for amusing bits of trivia to trot out at cocktail parties leads many to the misbelief that the saucer-shaped champagne glass was modeled on a famed beauty’s breast. Over the years, this claim has been made of a number of women:

Marie Antoinette (1755-1793): This narcissistic French queen (wife of Louis XVI and What a pair! of apocryphal “Let them eat cake!” fame) was said to have had champagne glasses fashioned from casts of her breasts so courtiers could drink to her health from them.

Madame du Pompadour (1721-1764): This mistress of France’s Louis XV supposedly had the glasses crafted as a special gift for her imperial lover who it was said greatly admired her breasts and longed to be able to drink champagne from them.

Madame du Barry (1743-1793): The same story told about du Pompadour is also told of du Barry, another mistress of France’s Louis XV.
Empress Josephine (1763-1814): This wife of Napoleon had a great fondness for the bubbly (her champagne bills were said to have horrified her husband), so it’s not surprising this legend would attach to her.

Diane de Poitiers (1499-1566): This mistress of Henry II was said to have commissioned a glassblower at their Chateau d’Anet to make them as a present to Henry, who was particularly enamored of her breasts and harbored a fantasy to drink wine from them. In another version of the tale, Henry was the one who came up with this idea, and the mold was solely of her left breast.

Helen of Troy: Helen was said to possess “the face that launched a thousand ships,” a reference to her husband, Menelaus, coming after her and her lover, Paris, with a force of thousands. It is said Paris made wax molds of her breasts, then used those molds as forms for drinking glasses.
None of the “famed beauty’s breast” tales hold up. Champagne was invented in the 17th century when a Benedictine monk discovered a way to trap bubbles of carbon dioxide in wine. As for the glass, it was designed and made in England especially for champagne around 1663, a chronology that rules out du Barry, du Pompadour, Josephine, and Marie Antoinette, all of whom were born long after the coupe came into existence. As for de Poitiers, she died a century before either the glass or the beverage was invented. And if she existed at all, Helen of Troy antedated both champagne and the champagne glass by about two millennia.

No one knows how this rumor began, but a good guess would be someone’s drunken observations on the shape of the glass coupled with a dollop of male fantasy sparked it off.

The coupe is further associated with ladies’ breasts by the oft-repeated claim that prospective members of the Folies Bergere dance troupe were subjected to a champagne glass test — a coupe fit over their naked breasts determined who was eligible. Provided the young ladies’ charms remained within the glass, they were still in the running; if their natural wonders overflowed, it was, well, tough titties for them.

Popularity and salacious lore aside, the coupe is not the glass of choice for champagne connoisseurs. Fans of the grape swear that the best glasses to tipple from are flutes, which are tall and thin with lips that curve inward slightly at the top. Flutes concentrate the bubbles and the bouquet, heightening the champagne experience. Coupes encourage the wine to warm and go flat quickly.

Extreme close-up of explosion of champagne bottle cork

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Champagne

Extreme close-up of explosion of champagne bottle corkDazzle your New Years Eve guests with your knowledge about the golden wine from France. Tim Elliott from Honest Cooking with a list of 10 things you might not already know about Champagne.

With a new year fast approaching we have compiled some Champagne trivia to share while toasting your friends and family this weekend.

10) In the movie adaptations James Bond drinks Champagne more than any other beverage (nearly 40 glasses and counting).

9) The classic Champagne coupe was adapted from a wax mold made from the breast of Marie Antoinette.

8) There is about 90 pounds per square inch of pressure in a bottle of Champagne. That’s more than triple the pressure in an automobile tire.

7) A Champagne cork reaches a velocity of about 40 miles per hour (64 kilometers per hour) if popped out of the bottle. We recommend carefully twisting the cork out with a towel covering the bottle so no wine escapes and you don’t hurt a bystander.

6) Actress Marilyn Monroe took a bath in 350 bottles of Champagne. We are sure it was not at the proper temperature for drinking, however.

5) The longest recorded flight of a Champagne cork is over 177 feet (54 meters).

4) Don’t drink Champagne quickly or the bubbles will cause the alcohol to enter your bloodstream too fast often causing a headache. Savor your Champagne in small sips to taste the wine but also dissipate the bubbles before swallowing.

3) A Champagne riddler can turn as many as 50,000 bottles in a single day.

2) The largest bottle size for Champagne is called a Melchizedek and is equal to 40 standard bottles or 30 liters.

1) There are approximately 49 million bubbles in a standard sized bottle of Champagne.

Great sparkling wine is made all over the world but the most famous, and still unrivaled for quality, is made in France. We wish you a happy and prosperous New Year no matter what you choose to celebrate with.