It is coming upon the season of the year for champagne, and in the interests of safety and peace amongst family and friends, we here at The LawDog Files would like to address some concerns.
Specifically involving the humble champagne cork.
Ladies and gentlemen, nothing takes the sparkle out of a celebration quite like an errant champagne cork ground-zeroing in your hostesses heirloom crystal stemware collection, prized Ming vase or — worst case scenario — impacting amidships of Fluffy, and causing said family feline to take a high-velocity lap or six through various displayed pretties.
Plus — and here I speak to my fellow knuckle-draggers — as gentlemen, we strive to avoid offering unintended insults or creating unintended awkward situations.
And nothing says “Awkward Situation” quite like the random ricochets of your champagne stopper terminating in the dècolletage of another gentleman’s date.
So. Here is our nemesis, the standard bottle of champagne.
First, champagne must be chilled. Not only is sparkling wine meant to be consumed while cold, it has considerably less pressure contained in the bottle — which means less velocity if things should go all agley. A bucket of ice with some water is quite adequate to chill the champagne to the required 45 degrees Fahrenheit — if given adequate time. Twenty minutes should do nicely.
Now, find a cloth napkin or kitchen towel, and either drape it over your non-dominant arm, or place next to the bottle.
Take your non-dominant hand and place the palm firmly upon the top of the cork, with the twist of the wire cork cage betwixt your fore-finger and thumb.
Press down with a gentle firmness upon the cork as you untwist the wire cork cage. You do this because there is some small chance that the cork will fire upon release of the cage. Be prepared for this — your startle reflex will cause you to clamp down on the errant cork — smile, and present the cork to your date or hostess with a gallant bow.
In this case, the cork has remained steadfast in its duty. While keeping gentle pressure upon the cork, loosen the cage all around the bottle and cork, then take your cloth napkin or towel and flip it over the top of the hand resting on the cork. Slide that hand down the neck of the bottle until below the fall of the cloth, then reach back up with that hand and take a grip of the cloth-wrapped neck of the bottle and lift the bottle gently.
With your dominant hand, secure a grip upon the fat part of the bottle, then grasp the cloth-covered cork just above where it enters the neck with the other hand, bottle canted at an angle of 45 degrees — more or less.
Now, the hand holding the body of the bottle gently — gently, I say! — twists the bottle towards your body, and down; while the other hand — again, gently! — twists the cork in the opposite direction and up.
You will be rewarded with the characteristic “Pop!” — stop pulling. Leave your hand holding the cloth and cork on the neck of the bottle until you are sure there will be no spewing forth of foam — the cloth will catch any froth if there is.
Remove the cloth containing the cork — a restrained flourish is appropriate here, if desired — and pour the champagne into glasses.