~Written and edited by Veronica Clark ~

Friday, 13 January 2012

The fine art of Sabrage.

Hello everyone.

 How is 2012 treating you so far?

 With New Year's celebrations still fresh in our memories and welcoming 2012 with a glass of bubbly I was inspired to do a post on champagne and the delectable tiny bubbles that weaves a magic spell with my tastebuds. If you missed that post you can read all about it here to rekindle the magic of those tiny bubbles.

Well, one thing led to another and I can not seem to get off the topic of champagne!

Is that a bad thing?

 Nope, I don't think so...

Well, next my thoughts wondered to the flamboyant fine art of Sabrage.

So, lets take a look at ...

Sabrage is a technique for opening a bottle of champagne with a sabre.

Napoleon is said to have  claimed the following...

"Champagne! In victory one deserves it: in defeat one needs it"

Sounds logical to me!

I think I am in full agreement with Napoleon on this one!

Who wouldn't be?

Sabrage became a popular technique in France just after the French Revolution, when Napoleon's cavalry's weapon of choice was the sabre. You see, there was loads to celebrate and during these parties the Cavalry used to open their champagne bottles with their sabres! I guess they also didn't go to war with a bunch of cork screws in their saddle bags ...although, on second thoughts, I wouldn't put it past them....

Very flamboyant, don't you think?

There were many stories around Sabrage and one of them was that the widow, Madame Clicquot, who had inherited her husband's Champagne house at the tender age of 27, used to entertain Napoleon's soldiers and send them on their way with a complimentary bottle of champagne. Naturally they wanted to impress her and as  they rode off they would open their gifts with their sabres to impress the young madame!

These days, however, Sabrage seems to be reserved for special occasions like weddings, and ceremonial occasions. 

You have to admit that it is pure theatre.

I would love to try it but I am short of a sabre. I need to put a sabre on my wish list! And perhaps put the emergency services on my speed dial before proceedings begins.

Sabrage on horse back, just like back in the day...
I can just imagine how opening a bottle of champagne with a sabre will add some serious spark and a good dash of glamour to any party as well as an element of pomp.

Yes, well... you only live once and you have to at least try it once... but prefeably not on horse back!

How does it work?

The sabre is slid along the body of the bottle, towards the neck and the force of the blade hitting the lip (called the annulus)  breaks the glass to separate the collar from the neck of the bottle. The cork and collar remain together after being separated from the neck! Due to the high pressure inside the bottle ( apparently akin to the pressure in the tyres of a London double Decker  bus... Phew!!! No wonder we duck when a bottle is opened by less than a connoisseur!!!) the cork shoots out at high speed and can travel quite a distance.

Below is a step by step guide to the process, but I am not sure that you should try this at home!

It is a slicing action more than a chopping action.Chopping the neck of the bottle will shatter the cold pressurised bottle and sadly your bubbly will end up on the guests and the floor leaving none to pour! Although a baptism is champagne should not illicit too many complaints!

Keep safety in mind above all else though!

Your safety and your guests is surely of paramount importance whilst attempting this ceremony. There is no risk of glass entering the bottle due to the pressure but the top of the bottle flies of at some speed so be sure to aim it where no damage can be caused to property or anyone else in close proximity when sword meets bottle!

Maybe, we should get some hands on training from an expert first...

Below is Achim von Arnim a local master of the art of Sabrage from Haute Cabriere, a beautiful cellar which is a must visit!

The noble art of sabrage...You have to admit it looks like pure theatre!

Apparently in days gone by the wire "cage" was not as easy to remove and after battle the men were thirsty hence the use of the sabre.

I think it is a spectacular tradition and one that I would certainly like to perfect.

Some would say it is just a show off and pure pomp but I am all for a little theatre !

These two gentleman wielding Champagne Sabres opened some bottles with precision to begin a ceremony in dramatic fashion. Imagine, they poured a Champagne cascade into stacked glasses for a special time honoured tradition. Double theatre as a Champagne waterfall slushes down 6000 coupes in the lobby of The Brown Palace! Another  tradition which is said to have been started by Madame de Pompadour during parties at Versailles. Being a sommelier there was clearly not for the fainthearted..

Imagine, the task of the precise stacking...
steady now!

And  the delectable champagne waterfall...

So, dear ones... no matter how you open your bottle of bubbly...

Just by popping the cork...

...or if you have a sabre on hand ...

Keep Calm and ...

Vive la Tradition!!

Cheers again!!

I seem to be saying that alot!

Live well and remember

Safety first!

You wanna live to enjoy the glass of bubbles



Now you may regale me with some tipple tales down below in the comment box!

I am all ears....

all images here

Linking with:

Honey for Potourri Friday at 2805 here

Thanks for your company!


  1. Hi Veronika, I have a sabre, it's sharp too. But you have to open the bottle on our premises.

  2. I am completely ignorant of the sabre and a champagne bottle, so I feel a bit sheepish. Your posts are so interesting! I have learned something new repeatedly, and I immensely enjoy your other blog on the Mother City. I wish upon wish I could visit South Africa but I live far away in the USA/California so, until then, seeing Cape Town and environs on your blog (wonderful narratives and photos) is really fascinating. I've gone thru your complete archive on the Mother City blog and now intend to do it on this one. I don't even remember how I found your blogs but I'm certainly glad I did. Thank you for sharing your world!

    1. Thank you for your lovely visit Vicki and your very kind comments on my blogs! I love reading your responses and am most pleased tha you are enjoing Cape Town via my Mother City blog! Thank you for your wonderful chatty company. I deeply appreciate your input.


  3. We have a friend who does this regularly as his party trick with varying degrees of success depending on his level of sobriety! I find it safer to keep my distance - I like my champagne best when its safely in my glass! X Sharon

  4. That was all new to me - but what a show it must be when done properly! While the champagne fountain was lovely, I'd weep to see the waste of all those delectable bubbles!!

  5. I once went to a party where they used the sabre for the champaignbottles. I was afraid there was glass in my glass so I was very careful.It did look nice thou.

  6. I have only seen this a few times at a wedding, but it's such a dramatic touch to opening champagne. Love reading this post and learning of its start!!

  7. What a fun post!! I would love to have this talent, but I'd have to buy a sabre. Maybe not such a good idea for me :)

  8. Thanks for popping by. I love this post and that is also on my wish list!
    I love the Haute Cabriere wines....definately must put that vineyard on my to- do list when next in Cape Town.

  9. Thank you for sharing your fun and wonderful post at Potpourri Friday! Bubbles, too!

  10. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I do not know who you are but certainly you're going to a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!
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