How to Open a Champagne Bottle with a Sword

Amaze everyone at your next social function with le sabrage, or opening a bottle of champagne (or any sparkling wine) with a sword. Napoleon’s officers did it––now you can, too! Teaching yourself to “behead” a bottle of champagne isn’t hard, but takes a little practice (and a case or two of cheap bubbly) to perfect.

Obtain a bottle of chilled champagne that has not been shaken. It is bestif the bottle has chilled in a cold refrigerator overnight. Some people additionally advise chilling the neck of the bottle in an ice-water bucket just before sabering.

Wipe away any moisture on the bottle with a napkin. Remove the foil fromthe top of the bottle. Unwrap and remove the wire cage from the bottle. Alternatively, to avoid the risk of the cork getting pushed out on its own prior to sabrage, loosen the wire cage and raise it up to the next level, then tighten it back down on the upper flanged end of the bottle.

Locate one of the seams on the bottle. This is where the two halves of the bottle join together.

Hold the bottle firmly and at a 30 to 45 degree angle upwards (pointed ina safe direction).

Lay the sword against the bottle. Put the back side of the sword (the blunt, non-cutting edge) towards the cork, as shown in the pictures. Move the sword to the base of the neck, still keeping it flat against the bottle.

Slide the sword slowly and gently along the bottle back to the lip. This is to get a feel for the movement you will need to execute. Go back and forth lightly until you feel comfortable holding the sword to the bottle with this motion.

Firmly and quickly slide the knife down the vertical seam (the cleanest break will occur at the seam intersection), towards the lip that holds the cork. This should be one firm, continuous movement. Weak, unsure attempts often result in simply ricocheting off the top of the bottle. With the correct amount of pressure and the blade properly positioned (flat and on the seam), the lip of the bottle (a little glass ring) and the cork within should cleanly break off (as shown in the picture) and go flying.


The backyard is a good place to do this trick as long as you pick up your cork (and bottle neck) before you mow.

You can find “Champagne Swords” on the Internet. If you can’t get your hands on a sword, a large kitchen knife or a solid butcher’s knife can do the trick. Use a knife with a flat profile (parallel sides).

This trick typically takes half to a full a case to master. Plan on making at least a $30 investment to learn (6 x $5 bottles). Practice with inexpensive, corked sparkling wine. However, some inexpensive bottles are cheaply made from inferior glass, which can lead to a higher rate of breakage and are therefore riskier to work with. Gizmodo noted that French and Spanish bottles seem to break more cleanly than American ones.[1]
The “beheaded” portion of the bottle has a very sharp glass edge. Be very careful picking it up.

If you’d love to include Champagne sabering in your next event but you’re too afraid to give it a go, there are official Champagne sabering experts who can be hired for your event. Look for a person who is officially trained by the “La Confrerie du Sabre d’Or”. This person may even be able to show you how to do it, if preferred.

Throw away any incorrectly beheaded bottles. Do not drink from any bottles that break messily. A correctly beheaded bottle has a single, clean break (which is still sharp, but not shattered).

Screw-top sparkling wine (like Andre brand) will not work.

Non-carbonated wine will not work. The pressure inside the bottle is part of what makes this work.

Even if you correctly behead the bottle, make sure to pour out a little of the champagne before serving it just in case there are any little slivers of glass .

This party trick is impressive––use it for a wedding reception, New Year’s Eve, a special birthday, etc. as part of the ceremonial activities.

If your first try doesn’t work, be aware that the agitation of the first swipe will cause the wine to “spew” more when you are successful. Multiple attempts to behead a bottle will contribute to a messy break (and an undrinkable bottle).

Things You’ll Need
A well-chilled bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine sealed with a cork

A large knife or sword that has a squared back edge

Ample space to send the cork and bottle neck flying (6-10 feet/1.8-3 meters)

Related wikiHows
How to Buy Wine for a Crowd

How to Chill Champagne

How to Throw a Cocktail Party

How to Have a Fancy Dinner Party

How to Host a Wine Tasting Party

How to Open a Wine Bottle Without a Corkscrew

How to Brew Cheap Wine

Sources and Citations Instructional Video – Source of information and some of the images. Shared with permission.

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