Della Reese

A champagne bottle gently releases its cork a gentle plume of smoke
The real drama in opening a bottle of champagne lies not in the explosion, but in the subtle kiss

Della Reese Accidentally Talks Me Through a Hand Job

A gospel singing legend taught me how to open champagne while inadvertently bringing an eavesdropper to the height of pleasure. Let me explain 

First turn, Thursday lunch, Della Reese at table 32, which is floor level but buttresses table 22, an elevated half circle booth that can be seen from every vantage in the dining room. 

I’m so green. The fear of being found out as illegally 19 makes me a warrior server, but nowhere near Della Reese on a Thursday afternoon good.

Table 22 is simultaneously seated and position 1’s  wearing opera gloves, her youth and comportment striking against her date’s age and dishevelment. She is neither drinking nor eating, but she’s doing the ordering and I’m not listening to a word coming out of her perfectly painted lips because just a moment ago, Della Reese requested a bottle of Dom Perignon and I’ve never opened a bottle of champagne in my life. 

I ring in drinks in the server station, fill a bucket with ice and grab a champagne flute like I know what I’m doing. I set the bundle in front of Ms Reese while I go collect the bottle from the bar when Table 22 motions me over with a gloved hand. “He’d like the filet,” she tells me, 

“When you bring his steak, I need you to describe it in slow detail. If I like your description, there’s an extra fifty in it for you.” She cranes up to me, and I lower my head to her words, “Think about that,” she whispers.

I need the money, but also I’m star struck and barely thinking at all when I confess tableside to Ms Reese.

“I’ve never done this before,” I tell her. “I’m so sorry.”  

“There’s no one here but you and me”, she says. “I’ll talk you through it” she says. 


I see the steak going to 22 as this icon gives me a lesson in champagne that I’m passing on to you:

“Address the cage with respect. It’s holding back a bomb’s worth of pressure. Six twists and it’s loose. Yes! Just like that.”

“Now, keep one palm over the top of the cage and firmly grasp the bottle with your other and –this is the most important part– Don’t Twist the Cork.”


“Gentle but firm,” Della Reese says, “Hold the cork in place. Twist the bottle.” 

“Gentle but firm,” in that beautiful famous voice. “You can do this” 

I glance at 22 suddenly aware of the clock and my time at this table, and position 2’s eyes are closed. He’s concentrating,  listening to us with intensity

“Point the bottle away from me honey! At the window or somewhere harmless in case it blows. You don’t want it to blow, that’s just sloppy. Prolong this moment” 

“Can you feel the bottle relaxing? Releasing the cork? You’re in control of all that pressure. Do you feel it?” 

I can. I could!

When the cork releases –because I have control— it’s a gentle little pop, a kiss, really, and a small plume of smoke,  and Della Reese says 

“Pour with the same control. Deep breath. Now, exhale and count. Just a small trickle, slowly. Slowly. Control it. Don’t let it crown.” 

And it’s done! 

I thank Ms Reese a thousand times and at table 22, the display table, a gloved hand is rocking in position 2’s lap with fervent intent just below the table cloth line but visible to all. She’s focussed on something in the distance, but his eyes are still closed and I bear witness to the moment she completes this journey to the dulcet tones of Della Reese talking me through opening champagne. 

The visibility, the display, the daylight, the centrality were all part of the event for table 22, but I didn’t realize it until, locking her eyes to mine, position 1 withdrew her hand from her client’s lap and unsheathed the glove, leaving it crumpled and damp in the center of the table, next to a fifty dollar bill. Ready to be bussed for the second turn.



How do you like to open your champagne? 🍾 #bonannoconcepts #RestaurantU #openchampagne #champagnesaber #saberingchampagne #sabering #champagne #bubbly #restaurantlife #denver #denverco #larimersquare

♬ original sound – The.Bonannos – The.Bonannos