Treat Champagne like Casanova Would

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 precious bottle.

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 surprised).

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

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