Step 1: Chill
Kagan McLeod


Champagne, cava, prosecco, sekt, espumante, sparkling wine: There are as many effervescent names for bubbly as there are methods of opening it, most of which we don’t recommend unless you just won the Stanley Cup. Here’s how to UNCORK THAT HOLIDAY BOTTLE without risking puddles, bruised bubbles, ocular damage or turning the night into an unplanned Diet-Coke-and-Mentos experiment.


Step 1: Chill.
To minimize the spurt factor, start with a bottle that’s been sufficiently chilled in the fridge or in an ice bucket. Also, handle carefully. No shaking!


Step 2: Gently undress.
The cork, not you. Remove the foil wrap to reveal the wire cage and little handle securing this lovely package. Pull out the handle and slowly, carefully twist the metal loop counterclockwise while supporting the top of the cork to prevent an early exit. Six half-twists, and it’s off.


Step 3: Cradle firmly — but lovingly. And safely.
Drape a kitchen towel over the top of the bottle. Using your dominant hand, hold the body of the bottle against your hip at 45 degrees while supporting its neck and covering the cork with your other hand. Ophthalmologists have clocked champagne-cork missiles at 50 mph, so make sure you’re pointing away from everyone.


Step 4: Do the twist.
On the bottle — not the cork. Keep the cork steady and covered with your fingers and towel while rotating the body of the bottle with your dominant hand. Feel the cork turn and emerge from the neck, pushing against your firm palm.


Step 5: “Pffff” not “POP!”
You want a gentle whisper as the cork pushes its way out, not a loud, momentous pop, which can lead to a flying cork, champagne puddles and something that oenophiles call “bruised” bubbles. Wait a few seconds to let the gas escape and to prevent unwanted foaming when pouring it into your best champagne flutes. Salud!