Celebrating the recent purchase of my beach home with a magnum of Veuve Cliquot champagne got me wondering how champagne became synonymous with celebrations. Why do weddings, engagements, graduations, promotions and retirements start with champagne?
Champagne is one of many sparkling wines, and it is only produced in two small regions of France (Reims and Epernay). However, the liberal use of the word Champagne, such as champagne toast or California Champagne, enables the frequent substitution of less expensive sparkling wine for elegant Champagne.
As for my question how Champagne became the universal drink of celebration, French kings in the 18th century used Champagne in their coronation ceremony. The novelty and expensiveness of bubbly, light-colored wine became associated with royalty throughout Europe. Dom Perignon, a Benedictine monk in 1700’s, is incorrectly given credit for inventing champagne though he did introduce production techniques which improved the quality.
Today, the world-wide annual production of sparkling wine is 2.5 billion bottles which is 8% of total wine production. Annual sparkling wine production by country is:
- Italy (includes Prosecco 500 million bottles)
- France (includes Champagne 300 million bottles)
Champagne is expensive and Prosecco (tank produced) is not produced in the traditional Champenois method. The following sparkling wine substitutes are less expensive and produced like Champagne.
- Cava (Spain)
- Franciacorta (Italy)
- Crémant (France)
- California sparkling (Napa and Sonoma valleys)
DID YOU KNOW?
Wine glasses are better to use than fancy flute glasses – more bubbles and aroma.
Cheers, Bob the WineGuy
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