What is Sabrage?
It can seem daunting when you are initially handed a sabre and a chilled bottle of Champagne with the expectation that you will sever the top of the bottle with the sword’s blade.
Do not be downhearted! No-one has ever failed and all it needs is a firm wrist with a high elbow and you’ll be back at your table regaling your fellow guests with tales of how easy it really was.
When performed on a suitably chilled bottle of Champagne, the cork and glass annulus fly away, spilling little of the precious wine. The pressure of the Champagne always ensures that no glass falls back into the bottle.
The image left shows a Methusalem (8 bottles) being Sabraged. The cork in mid-flight has been captured by some expert camerawork.
Carefully remove the wire around the cork.
If the champagne has been properly chilled, the cork will remain in the bottle.
Find one of the two seams along the side of the bottle. At the same time, you can remove the foil which will impede the sliding movement of the sabre.
When you are an experienced sabreur, this will not be necessary.
With a firm sweep, slide the sabre along the seam to meet the ring at the top. Your firm sliding of the sabre against this ring is aided by the internal pressure of the bottle, so that the cork flies dramatically away.
With your arm extended, hold the bottle firmly by placing the thumb inside the punt at the base. Make sure the neck is pointing up – around 30° from horizontal. Make sure no one is in your line of fire.
Calmly lay the sabre flat along the seam of the bottle with the sharp edge ready to slide firmly against the glass annulus, or ring, at the top of the bottle.
This leaves a neat cut on the neck of the bottle and the champagne is ready to be enjoyed.
A Quick Tutorial:
Take a chilled bottle of champagne, not ice cold but suitable for drinking. The ideal temperature is around 37°F or 3°C
It is also possible for Members of the Confrérie du Sabre d'Or
to purchase a French Cavalry Sabre
with which to undertake their own sabrage.
The cost of the Sabre is £330 (for members only) and can be supplied in two ways:
With a black leather scabbard and gold escutcheons (above left)
In a Presentation Case of blue velvet with a cream lining (above right)
A decorative 'Sabre Knot', (looped around the hand to avoid the sabre being lost if dropped during battle) is also available and costs just £20 - see below.