Things that scare me: Champagne…well corks…

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Things that scare me:

Heights…although that seems to be getting better with age, I still remember being at the top of the CN Tower, plastered to the wall with fear, too scared to move.

Ear-wigs…not sure if this fear or disgust…

Being convicted of a crime I did not commit…I think this one comes from too much poor quality television.

Champagne corks…

The sad truth is that, although I love to drink champagne (any kind of bubbly, really), I am absolutely terrified of champagne corks. Absolutely terrified!

The pressure in a champagne bottle is approximately 6 atmospheres. This is why champagne bottles are so thick, the corks shaped like mushrooms and why they are topped by a wire cage: to keep the pressure inside the bottle. (In scuba diving terms, you would have to dive to over 160 feet or 50 meters to achieve that much pressure…160 feet…think about it, anything over 100 feet is considered to be a “deep dive”. At 160 feet, your body is subjected to 87 pounds per square inch of pressure, enough to compress life-giving gasses into lethal killers. If the descent doesn’t kill you, the ascent can as the compressed gasses expand).

I realize that equating scuba diving to a bottle of champagne is extreme but the fact of the matter is that the laws of physics apply to both: Boyle’s Law in particular. As pressure increases, the volume of gas decreases. The inverse scares me: as pressure decreases, the volume of gas increases and things go POP!

I have been taught the proper way to open a bottle of champagne: pointing the bottle away, hold the cork firmly and slowly twist the bottle to ease out the cork. I have even been taught to “saber” champagne (ruining two very expensive knives in the process).

But champagne bottles still scare me. I can feel the anxiety building as I remove the wire, feel my heart beating faster as I start to ease out the cork, and I invariably emit a most un-adult like “squeak” when the cork pops. It’s almost paralysis. Most of the time, I work myself up into such a tizzy that a guest takes over for fear of me doing damage to myself, property or living creatures unlucky enough to be in the line of fire.

When I am alone, though, with no one to take pity on me, things can get grim. Finding myself on my front step in twenty degrees below zero weather, watching the cork fly out the bottle, bounce off my driveway and land in my neighbour’s snow bank, I realized that something had to be done (fortunately, it was dark and no one noticed a woman in carpet slippers, holding an open bottle of champagne sneaking across their property, trying to retrieve the errant cork buried in the snow).

Browsing through the shelves at CA Paradis last week, ostensibly looking for a new kettle, I came across a wide variety of corkscrews and yes, champagne bottle openers!

Champagne opening gadgets...

Champagne opening gadgets…

More champagne opening gadgets...

More champagne opening gadgets…

A brief discussion of my “problem” and I came home with the $45 “Peugeot Champagne Pliers with Wire-Breaking Hook”.

Putting it to the test on Sunday evening, it quickly became apparent that, not only was I not up to the task, neither was the gadget.

Champagne opening gadget fail

Champagne opening gadget fail

The result was a broken cork and the even more frightening prospect of either a wasted bottle of bubbly or 90psi of pressure pushing up against a standard corkscrew. Scared of breaking my hand, I took the coward’s way out and asked my neighbour to do the honours.

Corkscrew contingency

Corkscrew contingency

We all survived, drank the wine and the “Peugeot Champagne Pliers ” are on their way back to the store.



With no gadget to assist me, thirteen bottles of pink champagne to try and my fear still alive…

…anyone know a good therapist?

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Although trained as a sommelier, I pay my bills working as an IT consultant. I love what I do for a living and keep wine as my hobby. As it looks bad if you only drink, I have occasionally been known to eat as well. Growing up on four different continents, I love to cook and appreciate the cuisines of the world. But wine is my passion. With a well-stocked cellar, I am always on the hunt for new wines and love hearing from people about their latest find or interesting pairing. My approach to wine: Drink what you like. Wine reviews need not be stuffy. Numerical ratings are meaningless. If it tastes good, drink it! If you don’t like it, then it’s not the wine for you.