Posted by Dave Arnold
Last Sunday my cousin, James (the guy who drew the cartoons for this blog), introduced me to his buddy, Devin Coldewey, a tech stuff reviewer for CrunchGear. He brought with him the coolest point-and-shoot camera Iâ€™ve ever seen, the Casio Exilim FC-100 (his review here).Â This thing costs $300 and shoots slo-mo video at 1000 frames per second! 1000 frames!! Anyway, I cooked him dinner and in return, he agreed to come in Monday and shoot slo-mo of us sabering champagne.Â So here it is: How to saber champagne, complete with slo-mo video (scroll to the bottom of this post). Â Oh, and Casio: we’re adding the Exilim FC-100 to our wish-list (of things to get for free). Â In fact, if we got one, we’d probably find a reason to use it weekly, if not daily.
Before we start: I donâ€™t want to hear anything about saber vs sabre. Both are acceptable spellings, I do not fence, and saber looks more American.
While we are clearing the air, many people feel that sabering sparkling wine is useless and wasteful. I disagree. Sabering expensive champagne is wasteful (if you make a mistake). Sabering a $7 cava is an exhilarating and awesome party trick.Â Whether or not a bottle will saber depends only on the bottle, not the price of the wine â€“ so stick with the inexpensive.
What is sabering? Sabering is the art of cleanly severing the top off a bottle of sparkling wine. You hit the lower lip of the top of the champagne bottle and snap off the top of the neck. Yes, you break the glass; No, the glass doesnâ€™t get into the drink because the momentum carries it away from the neckÂ (but you may get a shard on the floor so be careful). Â This works because there is a sharp radius where the lip meets the neck that concentrates stress, making the bottle want to snap cleanly.
Here is the procedure:
- Select a bottle that looks like a standard champagne bottle.Â Donâ€™t pick one with a funky neck â€“ it might not work (although I have a friend who can saber beer bottles).Â Super-important tip: select a bottle you KNOW will saber.Â If you sabered a bottle before (Paul Chenaux Cava, for instance or Gruet sparkling), odds are it will work again.Â If you have failed with a bottle before (Cristallino Cava), you will probably fail again.Â You donâ€™t want to fail, it is embarrassing.
- The bottle should be cold and let it rest upright for a while before you saber it.Â Be gentle with the bottle before you saber.Â Warmer bottles are easier to saber but tend to gush.Â The best saber jobs donâ€™t gush at all (take that anti-saber snobs).Â Youâ€™ll see gushing in the bottles on the video because they warmed up while we were shooting and were treated roughly.
- Donâ€™t take off the wire cage until you are ready (or the cork may come out on its own).
- Get a knife.Â It doesnâ€™t need to be heavy.Â In fact it doesnâ€™t have to be a knife.Â I made a stainless steel pimp ring to saber at parties.Â REMEMBER: you are using the back (dull) side of the knife.Â I saw a drunk friend one night forget this and ruin a good chefâ€™s knife.
- Find the seam running up the side of the bottle.Â The seam is a weak point in the glass and further concentrates the stress when you hit the lip.
- Angle the bottle away from you, your friends, glass, and food (donâ€™t want any glass getting in your food).
- Place knife on the bottleâ€™s seam at the bottom of the neck making sure you keep the knife flat against the bottle.Â If you donâ€™t, the knife has a tendency to pop over the lip of the bottle.
- The moment of truth.Â Slide the knife smoothly, surely, and SQUARELY up the neck of the bottle and sever the top.Â It doesnâ€™t take force, just confidence.Â The biggest and most common mistake is to swing the knife in an arc.Â If you swing in an arc, even a small one, you wonâ€™t hit the glass in the right place and you wonâ€™t sever the neck. Embarrassing – see the video at the end of the post.
- If it doesnâ€™t work, try again.Â Donâ€™t try 5 or 6 times on the same bottle.Â Seems desperate and if the bottle doesnâ€™t want to saber and you force it to, you might get a bad break.
- Remember that the momentum carries all the glass shards away from the neck and your drink (thatâ€™s why I told you to hold it at an angle).
Well, there it is.Â We are starting a list of which bottles saber well and which donâ€™t, so please leave comment to tell us.Â Here is the video, enjoy: