You're Probably Popping Champagne Wrong—Here's How to Do It the Right Way, According to Experts
I love Champagne, but I've never loved the pre-pop anxiety I've felt when hosting at my home—particularly in the kitchen that's lined with open shelving. While I've built up my bottle-popping confidence over the last few years, I'd always wondered if there was a guaranteed way to open up a bottle of bubbly that wouldn't leave the kitchen floor sticky or guests wanting to clear the area. I finally found the answer during a virtual happy hour (how 2020s of me).
French aperitif brand Lillet recently hosted a virtual tasting event for writers that was run by its national brand ambassador, Lauren Trickett. We were going to be making some fun sparkling wine cocktails during the event, so she began by showing us the secret to safe popping: keeping the wire cage on top of the cork as you open the bottle. This piece was something I usually threw away and had always wondered what purpose it served besides making the cork look distinguished. It turns out this little wire piece helps keep Champagne bottles safe from popping during transport—and it's also essential for a perfect (and safe) pop.
I reached out to Trickett and asked her to walk me through the steps. First, she says to remove the foil before covering the wire cage with your right thumb. Then, grab the cage and cork with your right hand while using your left hand to "gently turn the bottom of the bottle to release pressure," continuing to turn until the cork pops. Trickett also advises keeping the bottle at a 45-degree angle—and away from yourself and others. Not only will these steps lead to a safe pop, but they will prevent your sparkling wine from foaming or spraying, so that you can enjoy it to the fullest and keep your floors sparkling clean.
"Technically Champagne is supposed to be opened so all you hear is a whisper from the bubbles," Trickett told me. "It's meant to be sophisticated and elegant. But as long as you do it safely, if you want to let the whole room know you're celebrating, it's your bottle to pop."
Additionally, storing Champagne in the fridge and serving it chilled not only makes your bubbly taste more enjoyable, but it will also help reduce the pressure inside the bottle for a cleaner pop. Didier Mariotti, chef de caves at renowned Champagne house Veuve Clicquot, told VinePair that storing Champagne on its side in the fridge will prevent the cork from drying out and shrinking, which allows air to get into the bottle and reduces the pressure inside before you can even pop it. He also says this will preserve the quality of your Champagne. We think the same could be said for all types of sparkling wines.
Now that you're fully equipped to pop bottles with confidence and class, check out a few sommelier-approved sparkling wine picks from Trader Joe's. And if you're looking for some fizzy cocktail inspiration, check out our big-batch Prosecco Kombucha Cocktail that's perfect for parties or the single-serve Elderflower Champagne Cocktail that will elevate any occasion. Cheers!