kelly magyarics

washington, d.c.-based wine, spirits & lifestyle writer / wine educator

703.203.9463

Don't be shy...pop the cork!

On Saturday night, I went to a friend's house who always throws a good soiree, especially food and wine-wise. In his copper wine chiller, I noticed an unopened, chilled bottle of Piper Sonoma Blanc de Noirs. Being a huge sparkling wine lover, and not really that shy, I asked the host if he minded if I opened it. He told me to go right ahead, as he was waiting for someone else to open it so he could have some, too. When I popped it, heads turned, and others came for a flute. Lesson to be had: if you want the bubbly, don't be shy--open it up! It'll really get the party started, and chances are, someone else is really hankering for a flute.

Bubbly shouldn't be relegated to holidays and special occasions, but holiday season is upon us, so here are some tips for opening and serving a sparkler:

*Make sure the sparkling wine is well chilled. Beyond making it taste refreshing and delicious, serving it at the properly chilled temperature will mean less of a chance of the bottle exploding when you open it.

* As soon as you start removing the foil, point the bottle away from people. Sparkling wines are under tremendous pressure--hence the wire basket--and the cork can start to slip out even before the wire cage is removed. For safety's sake, I do the entire ritual in the kitchen sink.

* When removing the cork, put the bottle at a 45 degree angle. And be sure to turn the bottle, not the cork. If it's stubborn, use a towel or non-slip gripper to ease it out.

* Easing out, by the way, is the goal for removing the cork from sparkling wine. Although it's dramatic to pull it out quickly, you will lose much of the wine and a lot of the bubbles. And aren't the bubbles why we drink it to begin with?