Opening Champagne

Guide to Opening Champagne, Serving and Storing It,

Guide to Opening, Serving and Storing Champagne

Opening champagne and pouring it like a pro is easy to learn; it's better for the champagne and for you, too. You really can "take an eye out that way" if you don't know how to open champagne correctly.

Getting the cork out is only half the battle, though. You're going to be relieved and delighted with the latest news on storing champagne after opening it.

Let's start with what happens before the party.

Storing Champagne Bottles, Unopened:

Champagne should be stored on its side in a cool, dark, damp place, ideally 50-55°, with little fluctuation in temperature.

You have some leeway here, but temperature extremes in either direction could ruin your wine.

Champagne comes aged to perfection, so there's no reason to store it for years. More aging does not improve the wine. But if you like, most champagne can be stored for 3 or 4 years with no problem.

Refrigerate your champagne no more than 2 or 3 days before you will use it. If plans change, take it out and store it as usual.

Opening Champagne:

That familiar scene where the cork pops loudly and goes flying off to hit someone or break the chandelier and the champagne spills all over... is only entertaining in the movies and cartoons. And it's not good for the champagne.

How to Open Champagne:

Remove the outer foil.

Carefully remove the wire topper, called the cage, keeping in mind that the cork could indeed go flying now of its own accord, saving you the trouble of removing it yourself. Keep your thumb poised over the cork at all times.

Wrap a hand towel or napkin around the cork and tilt the bottle away from you slightly, aiming the cork at nothing and no one valuable.

Holding the cork firmly, turn the bottle by the bottom or simply wiggle the cork and bottle back and forth, without pulling, until it releases into your hand with just a little whoosh.

And don't forget to give the impression that it's not at all difficult.

Serving Champagne:

To preserve the bubbles, serve champagne in a champagne flute or tulip-shaped glass, rather than a wide-mouthed glass.

Pour the champagne down the side of the glass, filling it only about 3/4 full. Raising and rotating the bottle as it approaches the mark prevents drips and makes you look like you know what you're doing.

Storing Champagne, Opened:

If you think opening champagne is difficult, try putting the cork back in and keeping it there!

There are lots of tips, tricks and suggestions out there for corralling the bubbles. Most recommended is a special pressure-withstanding cap just for champagne bottles. You can do that, and/or you can pump out the oxygen, pump in carbon dioxide, place a metal spoon in the neck of the bottle, etc.

Or you can do nothing. Yes, a few years ago the University of California (Davis, I think) did a study on the best way to store open champagne. They tested every possibility and concluded that leaving the bottle open and upright in the refrigerator works as well as anything else. We tried it, agree, and have gratefully stored it that way ever since.

Update: There is now a flexible bottle stopper that we like, as well.

Of course, if you have enough people to share the champagne, it's a moot point.

Champagne Recipes

How to Rate and Choose Champagne

What Makes Champagne Bubble?

Return to Gourmet Party Food Ideas for more like Opening Champagne

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