How to pop a cork like an expert

When it comes to opening a bottle of bubbly, handle it like a pro and the festive fizz will flow…

They say ‘a small hiss is bliss’ – and whether you’re partial to glass of prosecco or can’t resist the charm of champagne, how you pop the cork can speak volumes in more ways than one.

Depending on their style, there will be plenty of ‘popping personality types’ who will reveal themselves with every pop of a cork.

So how do you master the art of cork-popping, especially around this festive time of year? 

“Put the champagne in the fridge the night before you need it, especially if you drink it with breakfast,” says Jonathan Raggett, head sommelier, The Clove Club.

“If you get caught short and need to chill it down quickly, put the bottle in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, which should do the trick.”

Try not to shake or move the bottle violently at any point – even if you’re caught up in the excitement of the moment and don’t mind losing a few drops!

Here are Raggett’s top tips for then cracking open the bubbly in style:

Foils war

The foil on the top of champagne and sparkling wines usually has an easy-tear tab – but most of the time these don’t tear easily, neatly and/or can be quite fiddly. Use a wine knife, corkscrew tip or other sharp item to cut around the foil just below the cage. It's quicker and easier than fumbling and tearing the perforated tear tab – and looks neater, too.

Down to the wire

Place the bottle on a solid flat surface and keep your thumb pressed down on top of the cage/cap. Untwist the wire tie and loosen the cage. Keeping your thumb pressed down, position your hand around the cage and slide your finger through the gap between the bottle top and cage.

Grip the cork at the top and keep pressure down on it. Pick up the bottle and twist from the bottom, effectively twisting the bottle rather than the cork. You should feel the cork loosening and trying to escape. Don't rush the release and apply as much pressure as possible – as if you are trying to keep the cork in. With this control you can allow the gas to escape with a quiet hiss.

Taste matters

Make sure you taste the champagne or sparkling wine before pouring for your guests. Two reasons for this: firstly, to check if it's corked or faulty. Secondly, because you deserve it!

Chill out

Chilling the bottle down as low as possible is best if you’re planning to pour at the table. You’ll find the bubbles will stay tamed as you pour slowly and steadily to the middle of the glass – and by doing this, you will be able to pour each glass in one go, one by one, like a pro.

Whether you hold the bottle at the bottom or around the middle, make sure you quickly twist the bottle a little in an upwards movement after each pour to stop drips.

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