Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sabreur!


"I drink it when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes, I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it if I am; otherwise I never touch it - unless I'm thirsty." Madame Bollinger, one of the Grande Dames of French champagne (1884-1977).


Exactly, why wait for special occasions to enjoy the most enthralling of beverages. And why care when only Champagne from Champagne can be called Champagne when we have our very own M├ęthode Champagnois in Cap Classique (MCC)?

If you go according to the price of Champagne alone, they are simply not that much better than ours and in fact some Champagne houses clearly exploit their protected provenance by overcharging for vin ordinaire. Of course great Champagne is non-parallel Monsieur.

Besides tasting the stars, there are a number of things that make MCC special. During sur lie (in-bottle maturation on spent yeast cells known as lees) charged ions accumulate, which then deliver aphrodisiac-like qualities when quaffed. Now if this makes you pucker up for a kiss but nobody (suitable) is within range, temptation will rise with the release of pheromones around the lips when you pucker up for a sip from a flute.  

That giddy and glazed feeling is also amplified by how quickly the alcohol gets into your bloodstream because the CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the wine accelerates absorption - especially on an empty stomach. Be careful of who you’re standing next to at the office party and designate the driver early.

In the absence of somebody to kiss, you might just be tempted by some Sabrage. Make sure the bottle is well chilled in the fridge (7-8°C) as you also want the neck chilled (or once chilled in a bucket, give it a couple of minutes up side down).

Remove the foil to reveal the cork (bouchon) and wire basket (muselet). Carefully remove the muselet, leaving the bouchon intact. Next, find one of the two seams along the side of the bottle nearest the glass lip just below the mouth.

With your arm extended, hold the bottle firmly (seam up) by placing the thumb inside the punt at the base of the bottle with the neck about 30° from horizontal. Make sure no one is in your line of fire, then reach for your Saber.

Now, calmly lay the Saber flat along the seam of the bottle with the back edge (either side works as well) ready to slide firmly at the glass ring at the top. The movement does not have to be done with great speed or firmness as the snapping of the glass is aided by the internal pressure of the bottle, so that the cork and glass ring fly off with one stroke of the sword.

If your Saber is not at hand you can substitute with a larger chef’s knife or even a solid metal egg flip, some even use a teaspoon. The internal pressure also ensures that no glass falls into the bottle.  Congratulations you are now a Sabreur!


Some producers like Pongracz and Villiera also produce a 375ml MCC which might be a bit small for Sabrage but they can be handy for picnics, breakfast, brunch, lunch, sundowners, dinner and a nightcap. They also fit into handbags for the movies or theatre.

you tune sabrage

Jonathan Snashall

*Dosage – proprietary mix of grape concentrate, base wine, maybe even a touch of brandy, used to top up bubbly when they are disgorged (crown cap removed, sediment ejected and corked).

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