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  • Cara Murez
  • Posted December 31, 2020

When Popping Champagne at New Years', Watch Out for That Cork

As 2020 comes to a close, many people plan to ring in the new year with a bit of bubbly.

But that can lead to calamity when not done safely, warns the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), which offers tips for keeping a Champagne toast from going wrong.

A warm bottle of Champagne paired with poor technique for opening it can send a cork flying up to 50 miles per hour, threatening serious injuries.

"Champagne cork injuries really do happen, and they have real consequences," said Dr. Dianna Seldomridge, a clinical spokesperson for the AAO.

"For this holiday season, our advice is twofold. As COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to be at an all-time high, keep your holiday celebrations smaller, limited to immediate household members. And make sure your at-home celebrations are safe from sight-threatening eye injuries," she said in an academy news release.

Seldomridge offered these tips for opening a bottle of sparkling wine safely:

  • First, chill it. The gas in sparkling wine expands when warm and can cause the cork to pop unexpectedly.
  • Never shake the bottle. This can also cause it to burst without warning.
  • Open by tearing off the foil, removing the wire hood and pointing the bottle at a 45-degree angle away from yourself and bystanders.
  • Place a towel over the top of the bottle and grasp the cork before slowly and firmly twisting the bottle, not the cork.
  • Press down on the cork while twisting the bottle. Do this until the pressure in the bottle begins to push the cork out naturally.

Exploding corks can cause numerous eye injuries, from cuts and bruises to cataracts, glaucoma and ruptured eyeballs, the AAO said. If you are injured, seek medical attention immediately.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tips for holiday celebrations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SOURCE: American Academy of Ophthalmology, news release, Dec. 16, 2020

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