How to Safely Saber a Bottle of Champagne
20th October 2021
For those arriving at this article wishing to saber a bottle of Champagne safely then please do read on below. For those wanting to know what to saber means then let’s get this explained straightway: What does saber mean? To saber or the action of Sabrage is the process of opening a Champagne bottle with a saber which is a heavy cavalry sword with a curved blade best known for its use by Napoleon Bonaparte’s army in the 1800s.
Today the art to saber bottles of Champagne open is still very popular both for entertainment purposes and also professional with a dedicated order that recognises and practices the opening of Champagne bottles by saber – Confrérie du Sabre d’Or. Each year there seems to be an attempt to beat the world record of Champagne bottles sabered:
“The most champagne bottles sabered in one minute is 66 and was achieved by Ashrita Furman (USA) at the Sri Chinmoy Centre, Jamaica, New York, USA, on 2 August 2015.” source Guinness World Records
Be it at a party or at home, for the sheer experience or to impress, many of us love to see a bottle of bubbly open by way of saber. Not only will a blade be used, there are many videos shared online showing people improvising with other tools such as Champagne flutes, mobile phones, shoes and more. The outcome of many acts of sabrage are successful, though we do see many costly mistakes.
We must also be prepared for when a sabrage goes wrong and this we should address before we run through the process of how to saber. Many times accidents do occur and this will usually be down to the bottle breaking not as we expect or the pieces ejected from the bottle when sabered hitting other objects or persons. We can not always guarantee that a bottle will saber exactly as planned, we have to take in to consideration that on occasions it will not so be prepared for this!
Once you know the risks then you can decide if performing a sabrage is for you. To carry out the process the following steps you should take:
- Choose a bottle of sparkling wine (ideally traditional method). This will not work with a still wine which comes most times in a weaker bottle.
- Chill the bottle down in the fridge – Do try not to use a warm bottle for sabering.
- Find a suitable location to saber, ideally outside with an area that you can safely point the bottle towards which will not cause damage to person or property.
- Extra precautions can include goggles, safety gloves and a choice of clothing that you are comfortable covering with Champagne!
- Take off the foil at the top of the bottle.
- Find the weak point of the bottle which is the seam line.
- Take off the cage (from this stage onwards please point the bottle in a safe direction).
- Run your striking tool (blade, blunt object, glass etc) along the line of the seam to get a practice in.
- Gently perform the action again though this time striking the top rim of the bottle making sure you get a clean strike. If you are using a heavy blade then you can afford to do this at speed. If you are using a lighter and non conventional tool then you might which to perform softer strikes.
- Once you have successfully performed the saber then you can pour the fizz into your glass.
- Please discard all of a failed sabrage even if half the bottle remains in your hands as the risk of glass splinters in the wine increases. It is also advisable to check the neck of a successful saber to make sure there are no shards.
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.