How to pop Champagne: Don't let your bubbly celebrations go flat
Do you struggle to open a bottle of champers? Prepare for festive fizz with a guide to popping the corks like a pro from Sam Wylie-Harris
They say 'a small hiss is bliss', but depending on their style, there will be plenty of 'popping personality types' who will reveal themselves with every pop of a cork - and chances are, there's a 'premature popper', a 'twist and shout' or a 'popping performer' among your family and friends.
Shloer, the non-alcoholic drinks brand, teamed up with body language and behavioural expert Jo Hemmings to identify these distinct corking character categories.
"It's fascinating delving into people's behaviour during moments of celebration," says Hemmings. "Cracking open the cork on a bottle of fizz is the perfect way to set the party mood in swing. Sharing a glass of bubbly is part of what makes the social ritual feel special, whether you're drinking alcohol or not."
So how do you master the art of popping like a pro?
"Put the champagne in the fridge the night before you need it, especially if you drink it with breakfast," says Jonathan Raggett, head sommelier at The Clove Club (www.thecloveclub.com). "If you get caught short and need to chill it down quickly, put the bottle in the freezer for 15-20 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.
The foil on the top of Champagne and sparkling wines usually has an easy tear tab. Most of the time, these don't tear easily or neatly, and can be quite fiddly, notes Raggett. 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, Raggett explains.
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.
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.
Finally, Raggett suggests chilling the bottle as low as possible if you're planning to pour at the table. You will find the bubbles will stay tamed as you pour slow and steady to the middle of the glass. 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.