Champagne Tips and Tricks to Wow Your Guests

Global Champagne Day is October 19. Celebrate in style with our five sommelier-approved ways to wow your guests at your own Champagne Day soirée.

Hey, did you ever try dunking a potato chip in Champagne? It’s real crazy!

Global Champagne Day is October 19, and while we don’t ever need an excuse to pop a bottle, we must admit this is our kind of holiday. Celebrate in style with these five sommelier-approved ways for wowing your guests at your own Champagne Day soirée.

From sabering a bottle of bubbly to building a Champagne tower, here are five ways to wow your party guests. Photo: St. Regis Hotels

Saber a Bottle

If you’re looking for a show-stopping move that will have everyone buzzing long after the party is over—not to mention a jaw-dropping Instagram moment—saber the first bottle of the evening. There is really nothing as dramatic as lopping off the top of your champagne bottle with a blade.

How To Do It

Every Champagne bottle is simply two halves seamed together, and since every bottle of Champagne contains 5-6 atmospheres of pressure (that’s 90 pounds per square inch!), the key to sabering is applying the precise amount of force to the weakest part of the bottle: the neck. It’s much more about strategy than strength. As long as you hit the weak point at the correct angle, the pressure in the bottle will do most of the work for you. Whether you invest in a beautiful heirloom saber from Berti or Laguiole or use a blunt-edged knife that you have on hand, follow these tips to make sure you saber safely:

Step 1: Ice the bottle. Because many glass bottles have faults, they will shatter if they are not sabered at the proper temperature. It’s vital to make sure the bottle is very cold. The colder the bottle, the easier it will be to saber. Immersing your bottle in ice for a couple of hours before your party will do the trick.

Step 2: Locate the seam that runs down the side of the bottle. Remove the foil and cage so you can identify the seam that runs down the side of the bottle.

Step 3: Angle the bottle for safety. Always point the bottle at a 45-degree angle, away from yourself and your guests. Safety must come first, whether you are sabering or opening a bottle of Champagne in the conventional way.

Step 4: Position the saber. Place your saber against the vertical seam at a slight angle, with the blade facing the neck. Run the saber slowly down the seam toward the bottom of the bottle to get it in position.

Step 5: Saber away! With a quick, clean, firm action, run the saber up to the neck of the bottle, hitting the lip with a decisive motion and a slight bit of force. The tip of the bottle will cleanly sever from the neck and go flying. Expect cheers from your audience!

From sabering a bottle of bubbly to building a Champagne tower, here are five ways to wow your party guests.

Photo: Martha Stewart Weddings

Build a Champagne Tower

For Global Champagne Day, a festive presentation is in order, and nothing tops a party focal point more than a grand and glamorous champagne tower.

How To Do It

Step 1: Collect the coupes, the preferred glassware of Marie Antoinette. Champagne flutes do not provide enough width and stability to properly stack, so you will need wide and shallow Champagne coupes. Vintage and thrift stores are a great place to source them; additionally, most party rental services will offer them.

Step 2: Start stacking. The “base” of your tower will be square, and every level will have one less row. So, if your base is 10 x 10 glasses, the next level up will be 9 x 9, then 8 x 8, etc. until you have a single glass at the top. Make sure all the glasses are touching, and center each glass evenly on top of the “diamond” space created by the four glasses beneath it.

Step 3: Pop the Champagne and pour. You will need patience for this step, because it will take a lot of time and Champagne—about one bottle for every six glasses—to fill your tower. Slowly pour the Champagne into the single glass at the top of the tower, until it overflows and begins raining down on the glasses on the next level. These glasses will then overflow to the glasses below them, and so on until all the glasses are full.

From sabering a bottle of bubbly to building a Champagne tower, here are five ways to wow your party guests.

Mix a Classic Champagne Cocktail

Sparkling cocktail variations are everywhere: some contain spirits (à la the French 75), some liqueurs (like the famed Kir Royale). But there’s no denying the simplicity and elegance of the classic, original Champagne Cocktail, the recipe for which was first published back in 1862 and hasn’t been altered since. Classics are classic for a reason, and we agree: this cocktail is perfect as is.

How to Do it

Step 1: Drop a sugar cube into a classic flute and saturate it with 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters.

Step 2: Fill the glass with chilled Champagne.

Step 3: Garnish with a lemon twist and serve.

From sabering a bottle of bubbly to building a Champagne tower, here are five ways to wow your party guests. Photo: Food & Wine

Perfectly Pair Champagne and Food

Try these three great ways to pair Champagne with food. Whether you’re hosting a coursed, seated dinner or simply an hors d’oeuvres-heavy bash, Champagne’s high acidity and effervescent bubbles make it a perfect palate cleanser and food-pairing partner.

How to Do it

Option 1: Pair Champagne with acidic foods. Foods with a decent kick of acid require wines that match their zest and vibrancy. Ceviche, gazpacho shooters, and greens with a bright vinaigrette are all perfectly accented by Champagne.

Vibrant Splurge: Krug, Grande Cuvee Edition 163, $168.99
Vibrant Steal: Champagne Henriot, Brut Souverain, $39.99

Option 2: Go for a texture match. Aged Champagnes with luscious, creamy textures pair nicely with creamy East Coast oysters, sweet and rich bacon-wrapped scallops, and soft cheeses.

Textural Splurge: Dom Perignon, Vintage 2004, $149.99
Textural Steal: Nicolas Feuillatte, Brut NV, $34.99

Option 3: Add some fun with a “high-low” pairing. Serving Champagne with guilty-pleasure snacks like potato chips and fried chicken. Not only do Champagne’s bubbles work beautifully with fried foods, but there’s just something a bit subversive and fun about showing that you don’t take it all too seriously, kind of like the famous cotton candy dessert at the legendary Four Seasons restaurant.

High-Low Splurge: Pol Roger, Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill 2006, $295
High-Low Steal: Pierre Peters, Cuvée de Réserve Brut Blanc de Blancs NV, $44

Properly Pop a Cork

Finally, we can all use a reminder every now and then about how to open a Champagne bottle properly.

How to Do it

Step 1: Remove the foil.

Step 2: Loosen the cage. Do not remove it entirely: the cage is meant to help you get a better grip on the cork.

Step 3: Angle the bottle for safety. Always point the bottle at a 45-degree angle, away from yourself and your guests.

Step 4: With a towel or serviette draped over the cork, gently wiggle the bottom of the bottle. You will feel the pressure in the bottle starting to ease the cork out. Working slowly and carefully, apply pressure to the cork until it pops into your hand. The cork should make the faintest whisper of a hiss. Although it’s festive, the loud “pop” of a cork is considered très gauche in serious wine circles.

And here are a few more stories that we think you’ll enjoy: 

The 10 Best Champagne Quotes of all Time

Five Easy and Delicious Snacks to Pair with Champagne

The Sweet and Sally: A Cocktail for Fall Entertaining


Champagne Tips and Tricks

Welcome Photo and Quote Mashup

Welcome Photo: Sean Connery
Welcome Quote: The Seven Year Itch, 1955

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