December 30, 2008

Taking the pain out of champagne

Exploding champagne corks may add a dramatic flair to New Year's Eve, but can also cause serious eye injuries, U.S. eye experts warn.

Dr. Preston Blomquist, an ophthalmologist at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said errant corks can cause ruptured globes, detached retinas and painful bruising.

Blomquist recommends that to take potential pain out of champagne, practice safe uncorking of the bubbly, and to:

-- Chill champagne and sparkling wine to at least 45 degrees F; a cork in a cold bottle is less likely to pop unexpectedly.

-- Hold the cork down with the palm of your hand while removing the wire hood.

-- Point the bottle away from people, and hold it at a 45-degree angle.

-- Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle, grasp the cork, and slowly and firmly twist to break the seal. Hold the bottle firmly with one hand and use the other hand to slowly turn the cork with a slight upward pull. Continue until the cork is almost out of the neck. Counter the outward force of the cork by applying slight downward pressure just as the cork breaks free from the bottle.