Monday, 21 January 2008

Champagne Sabrage

An unusual gift for the wine lover in your life is a sabre – once used to open Champagne bottles – known as Sabrage. You can find this at – which is full of great wine accessories and gifts. The sabre is slid along the body of the bottle toward the neck and the force of the blade hitting the lip separates the collar from the neck of the bottle. The cork and collar remain together after separating from the neck.

This technique became popular in France when the army of Napoleon visited many of the aristocrats domains. It was just after the French revolution and the sabre was the weapon of choice of Napoleon's fearsome cavalry (the Hussars). Napoleon's spectacular victories across all Europe gave them plenty of reason to celebrate. During these parties the cavalry would open the Champagne with their sabres. Napoleon probably encouraged this and is known to have said: "Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it."

There are many stories about this tradition. One of the more spirited tales is that of Madame Clicquot who had inherited her husband’s small Champagne house at the age of 27. She used to entertain Napoleon's officers in her vineyard and as they rode off in the early morning with their complementary bottle of Champagne, they would open it with their sabres to impress the rich young widow.

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