Photo : Jean Boucton
Sabrage, or the opening of a champagne bottle using a saber, used for ceremonial occasions it dates back to Napoleon times.
It originated in France, after the French Revolution, when Napoleon and his army enjoyed victories all throughout Europe.
This meant that they could often be found celebrating with bottles of champagne, which Napoleon himself was particularly partial to!
The Hussars, Napoleon’s light cavalry, took to using their sabers to open champagne bottles after victories. It was a rousing start to many parties and a grandiose way to toast their leader.
The art of sabrage continues to be used today. Employed as a nod to tradition, or simply to add a sense of occasion, Sommeliers and champagne houses have kept this aspect of history alive.
Jean Boucton Champagne appreciates the historical aspect of sabrage and how it has been handed down throughout history. The sense of occasion and ceremony that sabrage evokes has made it an ever more popular technique.
As impressive as it looks, sabering champagne is actually quite simple once the basics are mastered.
How to Saber Champagne?
Before attempting to saber your champagne, be sure to chill the bottle.
This is important because the pressure in a warm bottle of champagne is higher than a chilled one, which could result in the glass shattering completely. Remove the foil from the neck of the bottle along with the cage. Locate the two seams that run along the length of the bottle.
The strike must be made against one of these two seams. Bottles are made in two halves, so the seams are the weakest spots on the bottle, which is why they are targeted. Hold the base of the bottle firmly and strike the bottle where the seam meets the annulus, or lip of the bottle. The strike should be in a clean straight motion, no curving. It isn’t necessary to hit the bottle hard, simply slide the saber firmly against the lip of the bottle.
Done correctly, sabering shouldn’t leave any glass fragments behind, so you’re ready to pour!