December 2014 – Napoleon would have approved of the special Champagne evening at the ITC Grand Chola last month where Chennai’s wine and champagne aficionados were introduced to the art of sabrage. Almost all the legends of ‘sabering’ a bottle of champagne – slicing the neck of the bottle with a sabre leaving the bottle intact, can be traced back to Napoleon’s reign, writes Ashwin Rajagopalan.
Adrian Pinto, ambassador of GH Mumm Champagne hosted the evening along with Hannah Keirl bar manager and beverage specialist at the ITC Grand Chola for a select audience. Under the spotlight were two champagnes – GH Mumm Cordon Rouge Champagne, GH Mumm Rosé Champagne and two Sparkling wines – Jacobs Creek Brut Cuvée, Jacobs Creek Brut Rosé. The guests’ focus was not on the tasting notes, though. It was on how the bottles would be decapitated with the blunt side of the sabre blade.
The inside pressure of a champagne bottle which, at around 620 kilopascals/90 psi, is more than the air pressure inside your car tyre, makes it possible. Quite a few guests had a go, brandishing the sabre unsteadily at first. But after a few swishes nearly everybody got it right.
The culinary team of the hotel had prepared an exquisite menu with special emphasis on exotic seafood of which the scallops were the highlight.
ITC Grand Chola’s Champagne Rendezvous hit a high note with its hands-on introduction ofthe art of sabrage. The hotel promises that it has more such evenings up its sleeve. But a Sabrage experience can be a tough act to follow!