How To Properly Saber a Champagne Bottle

Follow these simple steps to become a New Year’s Eve party ninja.

Champagne Promo
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Sabering a champagne bottle is a great way to liven up any New Year’s Eve gathering, even if you’re just celebrating with a few friends and family. This is the kind of move—the fancy term for it is “sabrage”—that looks cool in real time and twice as awesome in slow-motion, as you can see in the videos below.

It’s also deceptively simple. Here, step-by-step tips on how to saber a champagne bottle.

Choose a Bottle and Blade

Wired says in one sabering instructional that “French and Spanish champagne bottles break more cleanly than American ones,” so that’s the way to go. The instrument is another matter. If you have a fancy saber, go for it. Pretty much any kitchen knife can handle the job.

Chill the Bottle

This is simple physics: cold glass is more brittle and will be that much easier to cut. Most advice indicates the ice bucket won’t do it; you need to refrigerate your bubbly to 40 degrees or less. Then, prior to sabering, remove any foil or metallic caps or cages.

Tilt the Bottle

Two things here—you don’t want to spill it everywhere (you’ll lose a little as it is) and the cut will be cleaner when done from an angle. Safety first.

Find the Seam

Find the same on the side and focus on where it touches the lip at the top. This is where you cut, it provides the ideal point of contact.

Lay Your Blade on The Bottle

The dull edge should be facing the top, or lip. Razor-sharp steel isn’t a factor here.

Saber the Bottle

With a fast, firm stroke, run the blade back up to the lip, striking that seam-lip junction point at an angle. As you can see in most videos, you have to be sure to follow through as well.

In the video above, TV chef Alton Brown gives extra background on the tradition behind sabrage as well as some finer tips, such as a clear explanation as to why the blade has to be at an angle to cut through the cold glass.

Practice makes perfect. Buy some extra cheap hooch prior to the big New Year’s bash and use that for rehearsal, and saber away.

Video Still/Questacon