The New Year is right around the corner, so happy December everyone. 😀

This is the time of the year when people like to celebrate and make a toast to a successful (or little less successful) ending year and to welcome the new year. And we need something special to toast with family, friends, and colleagues, like champagne?!

But why exactly do we celebrate with champagne?

Well, as usual, we have to look back into the history. But first things first! Do you really toast with champagne or is it sparkling wine?

To clarify, champagne is a sparkling wine….

Sparkling wine is a wine which contains carbon dioxide (CO2). Naturally, carbon dioxide comes into the wine with the fermentation – sugar in combination with yeast, produce alcohol and CO2 – if the gas stays in the bottle, the carbon dioxide will release as tiny bubbles after opening.

….although every sparkling wine is not necessarily champagne.

Champagne is a sparkling wine which got its name after the region in France, called Champagne. The region Champagne is located approximately 150 kilometers on the east of Paris. The name Champagne is protected and valid only under appellation (the name champagne can be used only by the growers from the Champagne region) with very strict rules of grape-growing and wine production.

Sparkling wines are produced in most wine-growing regions of the world some of them are, as champagne protected with the regional appellation such as prosecco and cava. Below in the infographic are presented the basic differences among the three most known sparkling wines: Champagne, Prosecco, and Cava.

Now back to the history….

The technology of bottling and corking drinks containing carbon dioxide (sparkling wine) was developed in the latter part of the 1500s in England. In 1662, scientist Christopher Merret figure it out that adding sugar into the wine promote effervescence, and make sparkling wine more sparkle like. However, scientists needed quite some time to figure it out the right amount of sugar required and to avoid bottle explosions.

At that time sparkling wine was a drink of European royal courts, as it was very expensive drink, it was viewed as a status symbol. After the French Revolution in 1789 sparkling wine replaced formerly religious rituals and become more available to the general public. People began to sip the drink on special occasions such as weddings, baptisms, and other religious events.

Until today, the sparkling wine maintains its status symbol and is considered as a drink of special occasions, except at the weddings and, new years eve, sparkling wine is also a drink of sports events, where the winner gets sparkling wine for its big victory.

Not until start of 1800s young French pharmacist André Francois discover the exact amount of sugar to induce a secondary fermentation (prise de mousse) – the unique element of champagne – and subsequently creating the most famous sparkle of all. And this is how the champagne was made!

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The champagne has gained its popularity after 1849 when they built the railway between Paris and London, and champagne was introduced to the London society.

So now that we know the difference between different sparkling wines and the history of the champagne, two more notes before popping the cork.

  1.  The sparkling wines are usually served cold, at about 8° C to 10° C, except from the red sweet sparkling wines which can be served at temperatures between 10° C and 12° C.
  2. The bubbles (carbon dioxide) in the sparkling wine helps to absorb alcohol faster and therefore, lead to quicker drunkenness and can cause bad hangovers. So, be careful how much you drink. 😉

Cheers to another successful year!

Cheers to another successful year!

 

Sources:
Infographic: A brief guide to the world’s most popular sparkling wines; from Last Bottle Wines
Why Champagne remains one of the most special wines in the world; By Paul Graham (for The Spectator)
Why Do We Celebrate with Champagne?; By Remy Melina
Wine Serving Temperature; By DiWineTaste
Why champagne hangovers ARE the worst: Bubbles help you absorb the alcohol faster, causing you to get drunk quicker; By Madlen Davies (for MAILONLINE)