The Art of Sabrage
Often while sipping a beer at a bar under the dim lights surrounded by revellers of the night, we forget that drinking is so much more than just drinking. Simply put, drinking is not just the act of sipping on a drink from a glass, but it reflects on mankind, and the evolution of our dining habits. The art of drinking contains certain rituals that reflect on its importance, and one such art is known as Sabrage. The technique of opening a champagne bottle with a saber or a sword, Sabrage is a fascinating ritual that begs your attention.
History of Sabrage
Of course it is common for us to let our imagination run wild when we encounter this act for the first time. After all, what is this opening champagne with a sword business all about? And why did they even care to make it so complicated? This is where history comes into play.
History has it that it was Napoleon Bonaparte, the stalwart of French Revolution, was the first one who did this act of sabrage. Apparently, because of his great success, Napoleon’s cavalry thought of celebrating with a good old bottle of champagne. There were regular celebrations and parties and his men would open their bottles with a saber. There are numerous stories around the art of sabrage and its origins, but the Napoleon anecdote is perhaps the most popular of all. For example, some say that having lost in a battle; a soldier had opened up a bottle of champagne under distress by using a saber. So ultimately it has something to do with battle and the old world after all.
Sabre à Champagne
The saber which is used to open up a bottle of champagne has short blades, and is ideally about 12 in long, and somewhat resembles a knife. It is important to remember that it is not really the sharpness of the sword that opens the bottle, but the impact. So a saber is usually blunt, and can be replaced by daily kitchen products, such as the humble spatula.
You need to hold the neck of the bottle in about 20 degrees, while your sword or saber should be down on it. It is of course the work of a professional, or someone who has been practicing and knows how to do it. Remember to let some of it flow out before pouring into a glass because at times there could be glass shards, which could cause difficulty when consumed along with the champagne. Always check the glasses in which you are pouring the champagne to check whether it is safe to drink, and it is free from glass shards.
Yes, this delicate little art is also a competition around the world, and people have excelled and achieved great heights, such as getting into the Guinness Book of World Record. Ashrita Furman from USA opened 66 bottles of champagne using sabrage in just one minute. This incredible feat only happens when you have practiced for a long period of time. Just don’t break any bottles while practicing and make us sad. Also, it should be interesting to know that the highest number of champagne bottles opened by sabrage stands at a whooping 633.
So the art of sabrage is really a gentleman’s stuff, and to master it you ought to make sure that you practice a lot. We now leave you with what is widely known as a quote by Napoleon Bonaparte, ““Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it.”