Killer Cork

I love champagne. Not all champagne but in a blind taste test Dom Perignon always wins for me. Inexpensive champagne hurts my stomach, partially from acidity and partially from the large bubbles. I’d rather have prosecco.When it comes to opening a bottle of champagne I’m always nervous—more so when it’s not me opening it, and with good cause. I still remember dinner at an elegant restaurant owned by the famous French chef known primarily for his pastries and gorgeous leather bound cookbooks—Yves Thuries, in the medieval town of Cordes in the south of France. I heard a pop from way across the room and then like a missile the cork whizzed by the left side of my face missing my eye by about 3 inches. And they never even offered me a sip of it as apology. In fact they didn’t even offer an apology of any sort. Happened again last month at one of the top restaurants in NY. I heard the pop—this time within 6 feet of where I was sitting—and within a split second the cork hit the back of my neck. Of course I screamed and after regaining my composer said: “I hope it’s at least Dom Perignon.”(Ah my prophetic soul—here’s the evidence.) I informed the apologetic and somewhat horrified sommelier that I was keeping the cork in the tradition of spectators who catch a misdirected baseball at a game. i didn't ask for a signature since i wasn't sure exactly who was responsible for opening that bottle. OK guys—this is inexcusable. Do I have to wear a catcher’s mask when I dine out? But the main reason I’m telling this tale is to warn you that when removing the little wire cage from the cork you should, at the same time, firmly hold down the cork. I know it seems like it’s in there solid but believe me the pressure of the champagne could well be enough to dislodge it without any encouragement whatsoever on your part (this has happened to me). The proper technique for opening champagne is to have the bottle upright on a solid surface, then to hold the cork firmly in one hand while you rotate the bottle with the other, thus gradually releasing the pressure and twisting out the cork. I like to use a little device called a champagne star that looks like a Ninja weapon. It fits into the groves of the champagne cork holding the cork in place. I also like to use a “perfecto nut cracker” that doubles as a great device to secure the cork. But if neither is available I’ll use my hand or hand it over to my husband and still avert my face. After all, one can’t be too careful when it comes to these things. Seriously.