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Stupid Food Tricks: Skis Do Not Good Sabers Make

February 27th, 2009 · 5 Comments

Further proof that athletes are the last to evolve. Tool development being one of the classic examples of evolution:

Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn

Downhill U.S. ski champ Lindsey Vonn chose a bottle of Champagne for her victory in a recent race. The cork apparently broke off in the bottle, and rather than reaching for a more intelligent tool, she got with others and tried to use a ski to solve the dilemma.

Long ski. Short Champagne bottle. Slice away. Oh, heck! Why not?

Sabering (beheading) Champagne bottles (called Sabrage) is a classic but potentially dangerous-to-self-and-others presentation. The pros do it with a true saber, and know what they’re doing.

The ski trick didn’t work so swell — Vonn reached for the jagged bottle, cut a tendon in her thumb and is now sidelined for a while. Read more here if so inclined. (Inclined – downhill skiing — I’m on a roll.)

Hold it!

But wait: Maybe this is some kind of ski family tradition. They apparently slice off the necks of Champagne bottles with skis in Norway all the time. Watch a group of skiers do it, after a few failed attempts, here.

So how do you really do it?

It’s simple, actually.

What you need:

  • A very cold bottle of Champagne. Cold glass breaks neatly.
  • A sabre, or a long, *sturdy dull knife, or even a sturdy straightedge. Sturdy is the operative word.
  • A safety zone of about 15 feet in an arch in front of you.
  • Champagne glasses at the ready.

*You need a dull — not sharp – sword or knife. Napolean and his little buddies used a sword after their victories, which is allegedly where this all started a few centuries back, but since most of us don’t keep a sabre in our kitchen clutter drawer, you can use the back of a sturdy chef’s knife.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Danger, Will Robinson!! Full disclaimer here: I will not be responsible for you slicing your hand or appendage off, nor killing someone stupid enough to stand in front of you or even next to you as you attempt this. I assume bomb makers on the Internet post the same thing, so pay heed. It’s a potentially dangerous technique — not for kids!


1. Unwrap all the foil from the bottle’s neck, all the way down. You need a very clean glass neck.

2. Unwrap the metal cage from the cork, keeping your thumb over the cork to prevent it from popping prematurely.

3. Hold the bottle at at a 45 degree angle – pointing away from you – with your fingers gripping tightly, but out of the way of the sword. (Some pros wrap the bottle in a napkin – this catches spills, too.) Clear the path in front of you of breakable objects, and living things with eyes, for about 15 feet.

4. Place the sword/knife about 3/4 down the bottle at the ridge, dull edge touching the glass. In one smooth, firm motion, slide the sword or knife quickly along the glass to the neck of the bottle. The sword/knife will catch the bottle neck at the ridge, and take off the neck cleanly at that point. The cork and glass top (with jagged edge) will go flying — hence the warning to stand behind the guy with the sword!

5. This happens very quickly and the bubbly flows immediately, so have a glass ready to catch it. Pour the Champagne. Have no fear of glass particles – they’ve been blown away with the cork popping, or rinsed off by the overflowing sparkling wine.

Watch Brice, from the Bubble Lounge in New York City, show you how it’s done.

(See — you learn cool stuff every time you come here. Tell your friends!)

Tags: Ask Jan · Today in the World of Food

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Charles Keefer // Feb 27, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Watched the video. Way cool.

  • 2 Jan Norris // Feb 27, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    I’ve seen this done several times — guess it’s the crowd I hang with.

    It’s a great way to impress someone, so long as you start the evening with this, and don’t try it after you’ve crawled into the bottle .
    I’m betting there’s more than one would-be Champagne beheader who is missing digits. Maybe Ms Vonn got off lucky.

  • 3 Matthew Steinhoff // Mar 2, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Is there any reason why this wouldn’t also work with a Bud long neck?


  • 4 Jan Norris // Mar 2, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Lots — incuding the glass that is used. Please, oh, please don’t try it!! Beer and soda bottles are much thinner and don’t break cleanly. My ex brother-in-law nearly sliced off a thumb after a beer bottle spontaneously exploded upon his touch.
    And much has to do with the pressure in a Champagne bottle — it’s much greater than in your typical beer or soda bottle (70 – 90 pounds.)

    For Stupid Beer Tricks, do the Man Beer tap: make your bud’s Bud overflow by tapping the top of his/her bottle ssquarely with the bottom of yours. I laughed like an idiot when I first saw this done to someone, and 10 seconds later, had it done to me – and got beer in my shoes. Not so amusing any more.

    There’s a “Man Law” Miller Light commercial on having to do with it that went around the web one year.

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