You might have heard the warning before that popping of a pressurised champagne cork can cause injury, but a group of ophthalmologists are reaffirming this warning as holiday celebrations get underway, saying opening a bottle of bubbly improperly could lead to blinding injuries.
According to Science Daily, the pressure behind the cork is more than that of most car tires, at 90 pounds per square inch. The cork can shoot out as fast as 50 miles per hour.
The website for the American Academy for Ophthalmology — Get EyeSmart — says it shoots out fast enough to shatter a glass. They have the video to prove it (Note: the glass breaking action starts at 2:16):
“When a champagne cork flies, you really have no time to react and protect your delicate eyes,” Dr. Monica L. Monica, an ophthalmologist and spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, said in a statement. “Uncontrolled champagne corks can lead to painful eye injuries and devastating vision loss. We don’t want anyone to end up ringing in the year on an ophthalmologist’s surgery table.”
With that in mind, the academy issued some cork popping tips:
- Chill sparkling wine and champagne to 45 degrees Fahrenheit or colder before opening. The cork of a warm bottle is more likely to pop unexpectedly.
- Don’t shake the bottle. Shaking increases the speed at which the cork leaves the bottle thereby increasing your chances of severe eye injury.
- To open the bottle safely, 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 entire top of the bottle and grasp the cork.
- Keep the bottle at a 45-degree angle as you slowly and firmly twist the bottle while holding the cork to break the seal. Continue to hold the cork while twisting the bottle. Continue until the cork is almost out of the neck. Counter the force of the cork using slight downward pressure just as the cork breaks free from the bottle.
- Never use a corkscrew to open a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine.