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sabrage, sabrer le champagne (F)
sabrage, sabering champagne (GB)

German term for "Champagner-Köpfen" (sabrage = "sabre"), where preferably the neck is cut off cleanly with the sabre of a bottle of champagne (can of course also be used with Sektsparkling wine bottles). According to a lesser known version, sabrage is derived from "sabler" (sand, covering/spreading with sand), which in 1695 was given the meaning "drink it all in one go" in French. Allegedly Voltaire (1694-1778) interpreted the term as "drinking champagne en masse". According to the current version, however, the term is derived from "Sabre" (sword, sabre). The custom has an old tradition from the pre-Napoleonic France and Russia of the Tsarist era. At that time it was cultivated by French cavalry officers and higher ranks of the tsarist army at large receptions and celebrations.

In many sources the invention is attributed to the French Emperor Napoleon (1769-1821), although it was probably already in use before his time. In any case, he used to enjoy such opened champagne bottles after a won battle with his officers. Since Napoleon won over 50 battles, one can assume a certain skill. However, he probably cultivated the custom even after a dozen or so defeats, because he remarked about champagne: "After victory you deserve it, after defeat you need it. The Confrérie du Sabre d'Or in Champagne, with branches in other countries, is dedicated to this art and to the cultivation of other champagne traditions. But it is also common in private circles on special occasions and in various restaurants. However, the process should never be imagined in the form of a classic "beheading". In any case, it is advisable to practice it (if at all) exclusively outdoors and to be extremely careful.

Fotos vom Sabrieren in drei Schritten

There are own Sabriersäbel in the trade in the length of 50 to 70 centimeters and a weight of 500 to 1,200 grams. However, a normal, larger and heavier kitchen knife can also be used, which is of course much less stylish (other objects such as the bottom of a champagne glass are also used). First the foil on the bottle neck and optionally also the agraffe must be removed, but this must be done very carefully. The bottle must now be turned so that the longitudinal seam points exactly upwards. This relatively fine seam, which is not always present, must be felt beforehand.

Now take the slightly upward sloping bottle with the neck facing forward firmly in one hand and the arm almost stretched out. Make sure that there is sufficient safety distance to the front, back and sides. Under no circumstances should the neck of the bottle be held towards people or fragile objects. This is because the neck with the cork can be hurled 15 to 20 metres away at high speed. In France, it is customary to label it with the opening date and to keep it as a good luck charm.

The sabre (the knife) is placed with the edge of the blade facing forward parallel to the bottle, just after the label (but some instructions require "absolutely with the back"). Under no circumstances should the label be damaged - not even touched - "because that brings bad luck". The blade should ideally be slightly inclined at about 20 degrees. The sabre is now guided in a controlled movement with relatively little momentum along the bottle body towards the cork and struck against the bulge (by no means the cork) of the bottle head, if possible at the point where the longitudinal seam merges into the transverse bulge. This bead represents a kind of predetermined breaking point. This causes the cork with the bottle neck head to explode.

If the procedure is carried out optimally, neither glass splinters nor sharp edges on the bottle neck will occur. The penetration of possible splinters is also prevented by the strong carbon dioxide pressure. In any case, the practice is not undisputed. However, the argument sometimes voiced that a champagne (sparkling wine) tastes better by drooling is not valid. In the video (click to view) the process is described briefly and clearly. See also under customs in viticulture.

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