Opening a bottle of champagne,
with a loud pop, and spraying the contents over the gathered
celebrants, is a cliché. But it is not as easy as
it looks. Do it the following way.
The champagne bottle is kept warm, at room
temperature. It is then shaken. It is tilted away from glass
objects and human beings. With one hand holding the bottle
firmly by the base, the cork is pushed out with the thumb.
It shoots out like an unguided missile, with accompanying
sound effects. Voila! With much practice you won’t
break a chandelier or a Murano vase, or incapacitate someone
painfully, or God forbid, waste the entire contents of the
I’ve been known to do all three.
So I set about learning how to open champagne the correct
way - like Casanova.
First, consider the process of bottling
champagne, something which would have pleased the infamous
Marquis de Sade. An enormous cork, 31 mm wide, is squeezed
into the narrow virginal 17 mm neck, ensuring a tight fit.
The whole cork doesn’t go in. The top third, un-squeezed,
lies bulbous above the opening. A ‘wire cage’
(like a chastity belt) is then put over the cork.
The champagne is thus cruelly imprisoned,
with no escape. The bottle then lies at an awkward angle
for several years, while a man grasps it, every few weeks,
and gives it a turn. Before drinking, it is given shock
treatment, plunged into freezing cold water. No one would
treat a woman so sadistically. (Really? You’ll be
This is where Casanova’s skills come
in. He sympathizes with the imprisoned champagne and sets
about releasing it. He picks up the bottle and gently wipes
it. At its bottom there is a deep indentation, known as
the ‘punt’ (there are no typos in this article).
He holds it there, his fingers on the belly of the bottle,
his thumb deep in the punt. He twists the wire cage free
off the opening with his other hand.
Holding the bottle at a 45 degree angle,
Casanova gently, ever so gently, turns the bottle, not the
cork, thumb still firmly in the punt, until the cork starts
coming out. Finally it is out, with the sigh of a satisfied
woman. A curl of smoke emanates from the opening!
He waits a while, before pouring the excited
and joyously free golden liquid into tulip or flute shaped
glasses. He licks the fleeting floating foam, lets the streaming
bubbles kiss his lips, effervescent and fresh like a young
girl’s kisses. He breathes in the aroma, and then
takes a mouthful. He forms his mouth into an ‘O’,
and sucks, before swallowing. Eventually he feels a beautiful
high, which only good champagne gives.
Now you know the reason for Casanova’s
legendary success with women. Practice on champagne bottles.
Share the wine with your beloved. Just don’t get too
ambitious and expect her to emit smoke !
By Asit Chandmal
Asit Chandmal is a gourmet and a wine
connoisseur, and obviously a lover of Champagne-not only.
He has written scores of articles on food and wine in several
newspapers and magazines, including Upper Crust. He is extensively
traveled. When he is not anchored at one of his bases in
Mumbai or Goa, he is traveling somewhere in pursuit of good
food and wine. Asit can be reached at email@example.com