It’s fizzy, it goes down easy and tonight people around the globe will be clinking glasses of champagne to ring in the new year. But why? Why does the bubbly stuff pair so well with “Auld Lang Syne”? These are questions that must be answered before the ball drops, obviously. And this way you can have a fun party fact to impress whoever might be willing to listen.
It’s important to note right off the bat that simply because a wine is fizzy doesn’t make it champagne. It might be prosecco or simply sparkling wine. To be real champagne, it’s got to come from that very region in France.
Bloomberg delves into all the questions we wanted answered when mulling over tasty toasts, tracing Champagne’s evolution back to the days of yore when the tradition of crowning France’s monarchs started in the Champagne region. Although wine wasn’t fizzy yet, all the nobles of note would hang out in the area after a coronation and dip into its finest liquids.
Wine back then was guzzled pretty soon after it was made, until makers started letting it sit in barrels through winter and into the spring. The yeast in wine would then get busy eating up leftover grape sugars and release carbon dioxide and voila! Fizzy wine.
Famous monk and patron saint of tipsiness (that’s not true probably) Dom Perignon showed up at the end of the 17th century and changed the champagne industry by improving his abbey’s vineywards and packaging champagne in bottles for the first time (which helped it stay sparkly) and stopping up the bottles with corks secured with string.
Eventually King Louis XV declared that only Champagne’s fizzy stuff could be shipped in bottles, and the French court went nutso swilling the stuff at party after party.
Champagne’s makers realized they were onto something fancy, an aspirational brand, and began selling it to the nobility in other countries. Rich people with new money wanted it so they could be “in” with the aristocrats, and it followed that the common people began to see champagne as a special beverage. It was too expensive for everyday guzzling, but on special occasions? Heck, why not indulge!
You probably see where this is going. What’s a more special occasion than an entirely brand new year? New Year’s Eve began to be known the event for drinking champagne. So there you have it — it all goes back to medieval kings and enterprising monks. Happy New Year, everyone, and cheers.
Previously in champagne news: Fancy People, Revelers Everywhere Worried About This Year’s Low Champagne Harvest
Why Do We Drink Champagne on New Year’s Eve? [Bloomberg]