Beware the Exploding Champagne Cork

FRIDAY Dec. 31, 2010 -- Be careful when opening the champagne bottle on New Year's Eve -- a popped cork can reach a speed of up to 50 miles per hour, warns an eye expert.

"Incorrect popping of champagne corks is one of the most common holiday-related eye hazards. Anything that travels with such force can have a dangerous effect if it strikes your eye," said Dr. Kuldev Singh, a professor of ophthalmology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, in a news release from the American Academy of Opthalmology (AAO).

Singh, who is also a clinical correspondent for the AAO, added that "champagne cork injuries can have a devastating impact on your vision" by leading to problems such as a detached retina, staining of the cornea and acute glaucoma.

Singh offered the following advice for opening a bottle of champagne safely:

  • Chill the bottle to at least 45 degrees F before opening. The cork of a warm bottle is more likely to pop unexpectedly.
  • Do not shake the bottle. Shaking increases the speed at which the cork leaves the bottle.
  • When opening the bottle, hold down the cork with the palm of your hand while removing the wire hood.
  • Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and any bystanders.
  • Place a towel over the top and the bottle and grasp the cork.
  • Firmly twist the bottle while holding the cork to break the seal. Keep holding the cork while twisting the bottle and continue doing so until the cork is almost out of the neck. Maintain slightly downward pressure on the cork as it breaks free from the bottle.
  • Never use a corkscrew to open a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine.

More information

Prevent Blindness America offers a home eye safety checklist.

Posted: December 2010


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