How to do the perfect champagne spray at a wedding: everyone’s seen it, everyone’s had a crack at it, and everyones experience ends with one of “nailed it”, “nearly took my head off”, or “fizzled out to a flaccid wisp like Creeds record contract” (I bought a few of their albums back in the day so this is all fair game, and I guess that makes me fair game).
Also file this under – things you can practice at home in a pandemic. Great for your serotonin levels, not so great for your lounge room walls, so maybe one to take to the streets.
How to do a champagne spray (condensed version):
- Put on your champagne spray face
- Pre-shake bottle, flick off the cork
- Press your thumb firmly over the hole while shaking
There’s a gentle art to the champagne spray, and it’s both easier than you might think in the moment, while at the same time requiring of a bit of careful strategy and forward-thinking so that the proceeds don’t resemble the unfortunate scene of a garden hose with no pressure at a kids water-fight birthday-party in the middle of summer.
Why we do it
Because if we’re gonna have a day of beautiful debauchery and anarchy, contributing to the carbon(ated beverage) atmospheric trust-fund – and surrounding garments – is one of the cheaper thrills we can have on the day, with a mighty power-to-weight ratio as far as thrills gained, and dollars spent on cheap wine.
Fun for everyone – even me as my gear gets gloriously soaked in the stuff (tips for photographers: if you want to get the best champagne shots, sorry – but you need to be right in front of it – and if you don’t come out needing a dry-clean, you haven’t shot it right).
The theory behind the perfect champagne spray
In order to get a wild spray going that lasts as long as the winners ones do on an F1 podium, we need to consult our dusty “armchair teenage physicist” manual, and brush up on the “why” before we get to the “how”.
The aim is to reduce the gap available to the champagne to flow through, once the cork is off, as soon as we can. The number one reason that a champagne spray does not work, is because that the champagne-spray Director of Operations at the time does not immediately apply pressure once the cork is removed and continue shaking.
This means we need to press our thumb against the hole, as soon as the cork is removed. This in turn keeps extra pressure inside the bottle, which means it’s going to try and force it’s way through the available gap. If the champagne has pressure that is mostly kept in by your thumb, that means that in order to release that pressure, it’s going to have to push it’s way through that gap – and fast.
And when you maintain that while continuing to shake it – that’s where it all starts going bananas.
How to do the perfect champagne spray in three steps:
Luckily for us, we have everyones favourite rainbow anarchist (well, the other favourite to this wonderful mob) Dee Brinsmead, wedding celebrant and co-owner of The Altar Electric, to help run us through how it’s done.
Step 1: Put on your champagne face
Bring yourself into a state of maniacal glee. This should be fun, you should have your crew around you (if they’re part of it), and you should be prepared to make a mess, take an eye out, blow a hole in the photographers expensive lens, all the good stuff.
Here, a friendly neighbourhood cat takes part.
Step 2: Pre-shake and dislodge
Acquire champagne, twist and remove the wire cap, so just the cork remains.
With your thumb over the cork, pre-shake it enthusiastically.
Begin to undo the cork until it’s nearly off. Brace your thumb against the base of the cork, and flick it into the heavens above, or at your photographers head.
Tip: if the cork is tough to remove, grip it with #intention very tightly, and carefully rotate it and “unscrew it” out with your hand.
Step 3: Immediately apply pressure, and shake.
At this point, you should immediately cover the hole with your thumb: in fact, trying to completely block it – and shake the bottle like a maniac. I promise you the champagne will begin to escape, no matter how robust you think your thumb-bottle sealant game is. This is where a champagne-spray often fails, and this is the step to nail correctly.
Every second of champagne-exit where the hole isn’t blocked, is precious pressure lost.
From here, just gently remove pressure very slightly, in the direction you want to spray, being conscious of where it’s coming out as you pivot your thumb. Continue to shake with maniacal glee.
Tip: As the contents and pressure in the bottle deplete, you can squeeze as much out if it as possible by increasing the pressure you’re creating, and pressing your thumb against it more firmly and closing the gap. The little pressure that’s left in the bottle will be amplified by having the gap made even tighter.
Voila! You’ve successfully emptied the contents of a bottle in the manner in
which was truly intended by the manufacturer, but can’t be claimed as such on fancy champagne labels.
Just know that you’re doing your winemaker countrymen proud.