Forget penknives, the knitting needle, ballpoint pens and the brute force of your thumb. Only misery and mess result from using these methods.

If you are stuck with a bottle of plonk, two glasses, and a thirsty companion but no opening implements, why not try this little-known technique?

Place the wine bottle horizontally on a flat, firm surface. Take a blunt metal object - say the back of a carving knife handle - and repeatedly rap the bottom of the bottle sharply with it. If you are lucky, the cork will slowly ease its way out of the bottle with no further effort.

This is because the energy from the tapping is transmitted incredibly efficiently through the body of the wine to the top, where it is amplified, building up enough pressure to force the cork out. If you are unlucky, of course, the bottle will break.

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