Safely Popping the Cork for Your Next Champagne Toast

Popping the cork on a bottle of Champagne (or other sparkling wine) is a satisfying seasonal ritual. Except when it hits a holiday reveler in the eye.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, (AAO) untold numbers of eye injuries occur each year as a result of a lightning-fast projectile (a cork) meeting an immobile object (someone’s face). As your mother used to warn, “You can put your eye out with that thing.”

As noted on ScienceDaily.com, a warm bottle of bubbly and an improper cork-removal technique is a recipe for serious, potentially blinding eye injuries. A Champagne bottle is under as much as 90 pounds of pressure per square inch, and a cork launched from it can reach a speed of 50 miles per hour. That’s fast enough to shatter glass.

Also fast enough to rupture an eye wall and cause:

  1. acute glaucoma
  2. retinal detachment
  3. ocular bleeding
  4. dislocation of the lens
  5. damage to the eye’s bone structure.

Such injuries require urgent eye surgery to stitch the eye wall or repair the orbital structure. They can even cause blindness in the affected eye.

To avoid ringing in the New Year from a hospital bed, follow the AAO guidelines for opening your bubbly (watch the video by linking here ):

  1. Chill sparkling wines to 45 degrees or colder before opening. The cork of a warm bottle is more likely to pop unexpectedly.
  2. Don’t shake the bottle. That increases the speed at which the cork explodes from the bottle.

  3. Point the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and any bystanders; hold down the cork with the palm of your hand while removing the wire hood on the bottle.
  4. Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle and grasp the cork.
  5. Twist the bottle while holding the cork at the 45-degree angle to break the seal. Counter the force of the cork using downward pressure as the cork breaks free from the bottle.

Pour a generous amount into every glass and toast the New Year.

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