The centuries old tradition of Champagne sabering seems to be making a comeback as elite restaurants and luxury hotels get in on the act.
Begun during the Napoleonic wars, the art of Champagne sabering was actually born of necessity, according to various legends. One legend has it that as Napoleon's troops returned home after victory, happy townspeople would hand the soldiers bottles of Champagne as tokens of gratitude and appreciation.
As the soldiers were mounted on horseback, with a hand on the reins, they found it difficult to unwrap and uncork the bottle. Instead, they would use their sabers to remove the foil, the wire basket around the cork and the cork itself, all at the same time.
Another variation of the legend of Champagne sabering says that the widow Clicquot would give Napoleon's soldiers Champagne and glasses in return for protecting her land. As the soldiers were mounted on horseback, they could not hold the glass and unwrap it, so instead they tossed the glasses and used their swords to unwrap, de-wire and uncork the Champagne bottles all in one fell swoop.
Either way, the "art of Champagne sabering" was born. The tradition has continued as Champagne connoisseurs continue to enjoy the bubbly beverage with the flourish of a saber rather than the tedium of a napkin. When a bottle of Champagne is chilled to just the right temperature, a saber can be used to remove all the wrappings at once, while spilling very little of the precious contents.
As an homage to the old art, The St. Regis Bangkok offers a nightly Champagne sabering against the backdrop of the setting sun in The St. Regis Bar. The tradition is brought to life with a saber from the Royal Thai Army and a bottle of The St. Regis Bangkok house Champagne, Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 2000.
At Hotel TerraVina in the UK, Gerard Basset, the "Best Sommelier in the World," Laura Rhys, Head Sommelier and "UK Sommelier of the Year 2009," Laurent Richet, Sommelier, who are the Chevaliers Sabreur offer guests the chance to upgrade their selection with a special Champagne sabering lesson.