The tradition of opening a champagne bottle on special occasions or marking celebrations originated in the European royal courts as early as 1789. Back then, everybody viewed the expensive sparkling, fizzy drink as a status symbol.
Royalty loved the novelty of champagne and its sparkling nature, which many believed had positive effects on man’s wit and women’s beauty. In the late 18th century, people used champagne in many secular rituals that replaced formerly religious ones after the French revolution. Many people chose to open the drink to mark special occasions like christening a ship, weddings, baptisms, and other events.
Champagne then became a worldwide drinking phenomenon drank on special occasions towards the end of the nineteenth century. Since then, it features in joyous occasions, from Formula One wins to celebrating Russian weddings by smashing champagne glasses. Just the act of opening a bottle is enough to mark celebrations, even if nobody drinks the bubbling wine, which makes champagne’s importance symbolic.
Why is Champagne so Special?
Apart from its rich heritage and popularity that traces back to the 17th century, champagne is also special because of its production process. The most prestigious sparkling wine worldwide comes from France’s Champagne region. Only three grape varieties (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay) are permissible to make the wine.
Producers use a secondary fermentation process inside the bottle to produce champagne’s unique bubbles. It’s done by making carbon dioxide using yeast and sugar and trapping it within the bottle to create a sparkling carbonated effect.
Champagne is expensive because of its restrictive production rules and regulations. Every part of producing champagne is labor and time-intensive, which adds to the cost of the wine. Bollinger Champagne House, for example, takes ten years to mature each vintage to make Bollinger Champagne.
Unfortunately, many people reserve champagne and other sparkling wines only for special occasions, which is a pity. Bubbles from these wines make an ideal partner for everyday drinking and food.
Why You Should Not Only Drink Champagne on Special Occasions
Restauranteur Ariel Arce, who New York Times crowned “The Champagne Empress of Greenwich Village,” says she thinks of the drink as something that should make you feel better when drinking it.
Arce adds that you should drink champagne whenever you want and not reserve opening a bottle only on special occasions. Yes, while producing champagne is a long process, and the wine is expensive, there is no reason to restrict the sparkling drink to specific situations and events.
Arce believes this phenomenon is the fault of over 200 years of marketing and luxury branding, making the drink exclusive to special occasions. She adds that a centuries-old feud between Champagne and Burgundy wine regions competing for exclusivity as the French elite’s wine of choice further added to the narrative that sparkling wine is best for exclusive events.
When the Champagne wine region inadvertently discovered how to make sparkling wine, it heavily leaned into the festive angle as its marketing strategy, which paid off in the end.
Arce argues that drinking sparkling wines over still ones is a matter of personal taste and preference. Thus, you can enjoy champagne as often and ubiquitously as other non-bubbly counterparts – no special occasion or celebration required.
Additionally, Arce believes that you can pair champagne with many types of foods, including low-key comfort delicacies like burgers, French fries, chicken fingers, and pizza. Still, if you can afford it, you can indulge in champagne paired with pricey menu flexes like caviar or oysters. Additionally, you can make champagne cocktails.
Over to You
The majority of champagne found in the market is not vintage. Hence it’s sold when it’s ideal for consumption. Therefore, don’t be tempted to hold onto a purchased champagne bottle for years on end. Instead, enjoy it with some pizza and turn an ordinary dinner into a special moment. Its effervescence is a reason to enjoy the drink year-round.
However, while there is no reasonable reason why you should limit sparkling wine and champagne to special occasions and expensive dining experiences, it does not mean that you should ignore the drink’s fancy, festive vibe altogether. Champagne can make you feel fancy, big ideas seem possible, music sound better, people look sexier, and occasions feel special.