Yesterday, I heard a customer in a restaurant asking if “sabler” and “sabrer” were the same thing. In front of the embarassment of the sommelier, I whispered him few words to do well. So, “salber” or “sabrer” a champagne ?
Let’s be clear: nothing to see. The great site of Maisons de Champagne explains it well: “Sabler”, in the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries, it’s down in one ! By th way, this is the definition of the Dictionnaire de la langue française ancienne et moderne of Pierre Richelet (1680), increased by Pierre Aubert in 1728: “«Sabler a glass of wine». This word is pronunced by some people to say swallow in one way. In the same way that we throw hurriedly a melty substance in the baking tin, we throw wine in the throat and it’s by this similarity that we say “throw in sand” or “sabler a glass of wine” “. At least, it’s clear !!! And without refer to the dictionnary, the good guy Denis (Diderot) uses it in Jacques le Fataliste (1796) when his hero « in shirt and naked foots, sabled two or three draught without punctuation, as he says, it means, from the bottle to the glass, from the glass to the mouth”. Likewise when Constant, the Napoleon’s valet writes in these memoirs: “he took imagination to the general Dorsenne to give a great supper; the wines from the Rhin and from Hungary were sabled, the punch went after…”. Then, we can forgot this theory according to which the expression could come from the habit taken in the XIXth century by the Russian aristocrats, to soften the champagne that they noted too dry deposing sugar powder in their glass, reminding the white sand of the Blakc sea. However, we have to remark the semantics slide of the XIXth century when le petit Bob…euh Robert defines “sabler” like this: « Sabler the champagne, drink the champagne in abundance during a festivity”. So, from the rapidity of the gesture, we slide toward the quantity swallowed. This is for sabler ! But what’s about sabrer ?
Come back to the guy of 1m68. He is going to terrorise all the Europe. He links victory after victory, drinking a quantity no negligible of champagne. Why ? For each victory, from a majestic gesture of the reverse of the sabre, the hussars uncork the divine nectar to celebrate there new conquest !!! From there is born “sabrer”. But how do well ? Sometimes, the words are useless in front of a demonstration, so let’s follow the next advice.