How To Open Champagne Without Taking Out Anyone's Eye

This article is more than 8 years old.
(Wikimedia Commons)
(Wikimedia Commons)

Somehow, with all the semi-automatic weapons floating around, it's hard to work up a big fear of champagne corks.

But for that very reason, I found this warning about the dangers that champagne corks pose to our eyes oddly soothing. I may not be able to protect my children while they're in school, but I can make darned sure my champagne is served chilled and opened in a way that it doesn't take out anybody's eye...

BOSTON, Mass. — Warm bottles of champagne and improper cork-removal techniques cause serious, potentially blinding eye injuries each year, according to the Massachusetts Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons and the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Champagne bottles contain pressure as high as 90 pounds per square inch – more than the pressure found inside a typical car tire. This pressure can launch a champagne cork at 50 miles per hour as it leaves the bottle, which is fast enough to shatter glass. Unfortunately, this is also fast enough to permanently damage vision.

Advice from the American Academy of Ophthalmology:

• Chill sparkling wine and champagne to 45 degrees Fahrenheit or colder before opening. The cork of a warm bottle is more likely to pop unexpectedly.
• Don’t shake the bottle. Shaking increases the speed at which the cork leaves the bottle thereby increasing your chances of severe eye injury.
• Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and any bystanders and hold down the cork with the palm of your hand while removing the wire hood on the bottle.
• Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle and grasp the cork.
• Twist the bottle while holding the cork at a 45 degree angle to break the seal. Counter the force of the cork using downward pressure as the cork breaks free from the bottle.

Readers, any additional wisdom?

This program aired on December 17, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.