The carbon dioxide trapped inside a bottle of Champagne is what makes it bubbly. It also means there can be anywhere from 70 to 90 pounds of pressure in the bottle—more than twice that of a car tire. A little extra care is needed when opening a bottle of Champagne (never use a corkscrew) so the cork doesn't fly off suddenly. Here's how to do it safely and smoothly:
- Make sure the bottle is well chilled. Wrap a napkin or dish towel around the fullest part.
- Take the foil wrapper off the cork. Remove the wire cage that secures the cork, and bear down with your hand to prevent the cork from popping off suddenly. Cover the top with another towel to further contain the cork. Don't grip the neck of the bottle—it warms up the wine and can encourage the cork to fly off.
- Continuing to bear down on the towel-covered cork with your hand, lean the bottom of the bottle against your hip and tilt it at a 45-degree angle, away from your guests.
- Continuing to bear down on the cork, twist the bottle clockwise with one hand to ease the cork out of the bottle. Ideally, you should hear a whisper-soft "pfft" rather than a big pop.
- Keep tilting the bottle—this helps avoid a geyser of foam, because a larger surface area within the bottle minimizes bubbling.