Sabrage is a technique for opening a champagne bottle with a sabre, used for ceremonial occasions. The saber is slid along the body of the bottle toward the neck. The force of the blade hitting the lip breaks the glass to separate the collar from the neck of the bottle. The cork and collar remain together after separating from the neck.

This technique became popular in France when the army of Napoleon visited many of the aristocratic domains. It was just after the French Revolution and the saber was the weapon of choice of Napoleon’s fearsome cavalry (the Hussars). Napoleon’s spectacular victories across all Europe gave them plenty of reason to celebrate. During these parties the cavalry would open the Champagne with their sabers. Napoleon probably encouraged this and is known to have said: “Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it.”

There are many stories about this tradition. One of the more spirited tales is that of Madame Clicquot, who had inherited her husband’s small Champagne house at the age of 27. She used to entertain Napoleon’s officers in her vineyard, and as they rode off in the early morning with their complimentary bottle of Champagne, they would open it with their saber to impress the rich young widow.

(SOURCE: Wikipedia)


Over at the Haute Cabriere wine estate in Franchhoek, Achim von Arnim frequently shows off his sabrage skills. It’s a breathtaking thing to watch, but a hobby reserved for the lofty rich.  The swords are beautiful though and, as serendipity would have it, I’ve been given my own French Sabre Briquet.



A chance encounter via a mutual wine acquaintance, I befriended Sabrage RSA on Facebook and the owner, Dan, sent me a message that he would like me to have one of these beautiful objects.  It arrived yesterday, by courier and I swanned around the house wielding it in a manner quite like Madame Cliquot. 


My grandiose fantasies were short-lived, no champagne for me on a Monday.  But it was fish pie night, and an ordinary old glass of Sauvignon Blanc did me all right …



Mix together:

Four cups flaked braaid snoek (or any other firm white fish)

Two handfuls each of broccoli and cauliflower

A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

250ml parsley sauce

White pepper (I used no salt as the snoek is a salty fish)


Cover with mashed potato (with egg for glazing)

Bake at 180C for 25 minutes



For more information on Sabrage RSA:





38 Comments Add yours

  1. I always wonder about glass splinters going back into the bottle.

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’m scared I break the whole bottle and waste the champers!

  2. leigh says:

    Party trick 😉

  3. souldipper says:

    Gorgeous looking sabre. What a fine gift. How many tries will it take to master the technique?

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’m going to try to find out if there is a local sabrage group I can join, there must surely be one?

  4. I have seen it done with a heavy carving knife. Oh the educational benefits of ballooning and the associated champagne breakfasts!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Ha, and you tell such lovely stories of those early mornings!

  5. neil stemmet says:

    heerlike snoekgereg 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      ‘n snoek is ‘n groot vis, ons is ‘n klein gesin; ek was bietjie moeg pate-maak na Saturdag se braai …

  6. deepercolors says:

    I never gets glass in the Champagne? eek!

    1. theonlycin says:

      Apparently, eek indeed 😉

  7. deepercolors says:

    It’s not even midnight here and I still can’t type. The sentence should read – I hope it never gets glass in the Champagne. Don’t know what happened to the missing words.
    I know – proofread. :-\

    1. theonlycin says:

      bwahaha … go get some shut-eye 🙂

  8. Tandy says:

    I had a waitress who used this trick to impress men 🙂 Hope you have fun opening loads of bottles of bubbly 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Impress them, they must have been terrified 😉

  9. What a beautiful gift. You simply HAVE to acquire the skills now … the sabre’s not just to look at, is it? 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Now to find a champers sponsor to take on my quest to learn 😉

  10. Lyndatjie says:

    I LIKE that sabre… but I can see other uses for it… *grin*

    1. theonlycin says:

      Don’t go giving me ideas …

  11. Pseu says:

    Just reminded me to take the fish out of the freezer…

    1. theonlycin says:

      Hope you had a good meal 🙂

  12. suzicate says:

    So, have you tried toopen your champagne with a sabre…I fear disaster here if I tried it!

    1. theonlycin says:

      I am looking for a sponsor, I fear many blottles will go to waste if I attempt it alone.

    1. theonlycin says:

      I flaked all the bones out!

  13. I’m hooked. What a dashing object and a long and flamboyant history. swordsplay and champagne bottles: what a wonderful combination for a story.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Yes, isn’t it just!

  14. nrhatch says:

    Only one thing cooler than mastering the art of Sabrage with a Sabre . . . and that’s using a STAR WARS LIGHT SABRE!

    {{zphzphzphz}} . . . the sound of a light sabre

    {{plink~plank~plunk}} . . . the sound of rim and cork flying across the room

    {{splsplspl}} . . . the sound of champagne flowing forth from bottle to glass

    {{clink}} . . . CHEERS!!!

  15. gospelwriter says:

    nice gift! and the snoek pie looks delicious – I’ve never baked a fish pie, must try it

    1. theonlycin says:

      It really is as easy as pie 😉

  16. The fish pie sounds good. You can have my share of the wine. 🙂

  17. Colleen says:

    How absolutely fabulous!!How the heck did you get that right Cindy??? 🙂 I also want one teehee….
    Do take a video of when you try your first sabrage technique session. I have to see it 🙂 Apparently you lie the bottle on your outstretched palm and fingers and hold it firmly. slide the sabre the length of the bottle (away from you of course) where the seam is and then when it hits the lip it should separate in one beautiful agonizing movement. No glass shards, no spilled champers….bliss!!! Cheers! À votre santé!

    1. theonlycin says:

      LOL Colly, I think I’ll practice on a bottle of 5th Avenue Cold Duck first!

      1. Colleen says:

        Hehe….they have relatively cheap looking bottles of sparkling grape juice just for an occasion like this….BUT!!! If it works and you get that frozen in time moment you are looking for………you won’t want to celebrate it with that grape juice 🙂 xx

      2. theonlycin says:

        For now it is simply a thing of great beauty that adorns my kitchen wall, maybe someday a photo of me executing sabrage will hang next to it 🙂

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