All you need to know for your Christmas table

Friday December 1st, 2017

The Langrée & Stahel Editorial Team

The Best Way to Open a Bottle of Champagne

The most festive moment of holiday parties? Popping the cork, of course. But, take note: The ideal way to open a bottle is gently, aiming for quiet sigh, rather than a powerful pop. This way, the aromas and effervescence is best preserved. After removing the top part of the foil wrapping, start loosening the wire cage while keeping a thumb firmly over the cork. Hold the bottom or the body of the bottle firmly with the other hand, tilt the bottle (approximately 45 degrees) and start twisting the bottle – not the cork – gradually until you feel the pressure pushing against your thumb. Let the cork slide out slowly until you hear the whisper of the gas being liberated from the bottle. Wait in this position for a couple of seconds before starting to pour.

During the entire maneuver, it’s important to always point the bottle away from anyone’s face. The pressure in a bottle of champagne is so high that an uncontrolled cork may pop out at a speed of 13 metres per second and cause dramatic lesions.

How to Saber a Bottle of Champagne

Sabering a bottle of champagne always makes a very cool impression. But missing it isn’t that cool, not to mention dangerous, especially for your hands, your eyes (wearing glasses is always a good idea) or your guests! Our suggestion: Practice a couple times before going public. And keep the following rules in mind:

First of all, your bottle must be very cold, especially the neck. If your bottle has been chilled in an ice bucket, place it upside down in the ice for a few minutes so that the neck is fully chilled. Find a place distant from your guests, because the cork will fly more than a few metres and at high speed. You don’t need a real saber to do it – a large kitchen knife will work.

Remove all the wrapping foil as well as the wire from the bottle. Locate the seam along the bottle, as this is the line you will have to follow with your blade. Indeed, the point where the seam meets the lip of the bottle is the weakest point, where the fracture will be initiated by the hit of the blade. If you are a right-hander, hold the bottom of the bottle with your left hand by placing your thumb in the dip. Rotate the bottle so that the seam is toward you, orientate the bottle away from your guests and tilt it at 30-45 degrees. Place the blade against the bottle seam, the blunt edge oriented toward the cork. Quickly slide the blade along the seam and hit the lip of the bottle.

The cork, together with a ring of glass, will fly off. You will typically lose a bit of champagne, so have a glass ready to be poured. Santé!

The Perfect Match: Champagne Pairings

Champagne is synonymous with celebrations – and the holiday season is filled with them. Raise your glass to toast a family feast or to kick off the new year. No matter the occasion, the good news is that champagne pairs beautifully with a variety of food, so you can happily tipple throughout a meal.

With Brut Champagne

  • Parmesan biscuits and triple-cream (Brie-style) cheese or sweet bread and mascarpone cheese
  • Smoked salmon on a canapé
  • Oysters, scallops, shrimps and shellfish – the salt of the ocean makes the champagne taste sweeter
  • Turbot fish with a mushroom sauce
  • Stuffed turkey or the traditional French capon chicken
  • Vegetables, stuffed mushrooms, foie gras, egg dishes
  • Anything truffle – the mushroom itself or oil accompanying your fresh pasta or risotto
  • Shortbread cookies are a really good pairing combination because the acidity in champagne cuts through the rich butter of the cookie
  • Gingerbread and dried fruit-based desserts

With Rosé Champagne

  • Contrary to popular belief, rosé wines are not sweet; most have a perfectly dry palate that lends well to sweeter food pairings
  • Brie and prosciutto are fantastic with a nice rosé
  • Smoked salmon is one of the best fish dishes for rosé wines
  • Chocolate and raspberries or (better yet) chocolate-covered berries