Champagne is the generic name for any sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France. There are two basic ways to open a bottle of Champagne that don't involve swords or broken glass. Both these methods work equally well for opening any sparkling wine and in each case both methods are used on different types of occasion to achieve different effects.
The 'No-pop!' Method
Extolled by most wine aficionados as the only correct method of opening Champagne, this process keeps more of the CO2 bubbles in the wine, making the glorious sparkling fizz last longer, which makes the drinking of it a lot more pleasurable. It's also a lot safer, with no flying corks involved, and is cleaner, but less exciting than the alternative method.
Take a small towel and fold it into an oblong strip of cloth.
Without jostling the bottle, untwist the wire guard and remove from the cork or plastic cap.
Place centre of the towel strip over the top of the cork and pull both ends tight towards the bottom of the bottle to create a firm hold on the cork.
Hold the bottle at a 45° angle.
Hold the secured cork firmly in one hand and gently turn the bottle with the other, applying the slightest amount of downward pull until the cork releases. The cork should remain still - it's the bottle that is rotated in this method.
If all goes well, the cork should push out under full control and will not 'pop' out violently and shoot fizzing champagne everywhere. If a towel is not handy for this method, using one's hand to grip the cork tightly is also effective. The key is that the bottle moves, not the cork.
The 'Pop!' Method
This method is the more exuberant of the two and is appropriate for occasions where the opening of the Champagne is as important as the drinking of it.
Remove the wire.
Holding the body of the bottle in one hand, use the other, preferably with a towel or napkin, to grip the neck just beneath the cork.
Point bottle away from anything breakable - this includes people's faces!
- Shake bottle gently, and push up and out against the cork until it 'pops' and wine sprays out.
This more exciting method is perfect for the New Year's Bash, the party after winning the Big Game, Formula One podium celebrations, and so on and so forth.