REIMS, France (AP) _The fancy French way to open champagne is with a saber. Or, if your regimental sword is not handy, with a heavy kitchen knife.

Slide the back of the blade smartly down the neck, striking the glass around the cork. With luck, the glass breaks in a clean circle, the cork sails across the room, and bubbles foam out of the neck.

But there is an easier way.

Remove the wire and grasp the cork with one hand, using a towel to avoid cuts from the metal disk. With the other hand, rotate the bottle slowly to ease the cork out. Turn the bottle, not the cork. As the cork emerges, press it down to control the escaping gas.

Before opening, champagne should be iced in a bucket, turned frequently and not left long enough to overchill. Do not leave it for more than a day in a refrigerator, or it is likely to go flat.

The right glass is important. A famous picture shows Marilyn Monroe sipping champagne from a wide-mouthed stemmed affair. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

The large surface allows too many bubbles to escape, carrying off fizz and fun. A flute is the standard glass, but most experts prefer a tulip shape, which concentrates flavor under the nose.

Champagne does not stay bubbly for long after it is opened. Some people swear by a silver spoon down the neck. Airtight tops gain more time, but they also trap air inside the bottle.

The best method, champagne lovers assert, is to drink it up. All of it.