John Wilson: Pop a cork like a pro with these tips

How to Drink Better: The best way to open a bottle of sparkling wine

Q. How do I pop the cork on a bottle of fizz without spraying it everywhere?

A. We’ve all seen victorious Formula One racing drivers liberally spraying Champagne around the podium. It’s one of those things you shouldn’t try at home. Sticky, possibly dangerous and a waste of good fizz.

Today, a few pointers on how to open a bottle of sparkling wine. Don’t point the bottle at yourself or anyone else. A bottle of champagne has the same pressure as the tyres on a double decker bus and so a certain amount of care is needed when opening.

Should I shake the bottle like the F1 drivers do?

Don’t shake the bottle; this will only make it more likely to spray around the room. If you have just brought it home from the shopping trip, leave it an hour or two to settle if possible. Serve it chilled; not only will it taste better, but it will help prevent explosions.


Do I twist the cork or the bottle?

Hold the bottle firmly in one hand at an angle of about 45 degrees. Hold the cork equally firmly in your other hand. Point the bottle away from you and anyone else and gently twist the bottle – not the cork. You will feel the cork slowly push outwards before giving a small pop as it comes out. Have a glass or two at the ready in case Champagne comes foaming out.

What shape glass is best for sparkling wine?

I would always recommend enjoying your fizz in tulip-shaped glasses rather than coupes, it will taste so much better. When serving sparkling wine, start by pouring a small amount into the glass, and then, when the bubbles subside, pour again, filling it two-thirds full.