New Year’s Eve and wedding toasts, sports team victories and ship christenings are some of the occasions around the world that have become synonymous with bottles of fine Andre champagne. However, few know the origins of the tradition involving the sparkling alcoholic that was actually accidentally created.
1) The French Benedictine monk named Dom Perginon hailed from Champagne. He accidentally discovered the unusual beverage when bottled wine began exploding in 1697. The anomaly occurred due to the warmer temperatures of spring that induced a second fermentation process. Pleased with the taste of the beverage, the drink was named for the region. However, new evidence suggests that a Gloucester physician was aware of the phenomenon in 1662.
2) Wine was originally used by royalty to commemorate coronations, visiting monarchs and other festivities. Before the end of the 17th century, champagne manufacturers introduced the sparkling drink to the royals during coronations in Reims. The beverage soon became synonymous with many royal events.
3) French aristocrats wishing to exude an air of luxury and prestige also fell for the ingenious marketing ploy. Wealthy locals soon began replacing wine with champagne for different festivities. In time, the affluent chose champagne for celebrating any occasion or rite of passage.
4) Continued marketing and advertising through art, music and word of mouth heightened the interest in champagne during the Industrial Revolution. The efforts on behalf of sparkling wine producers successfully spread the practice of drinking champagne in commemoration from the affluent down to the middle class.
5) The popularity of the drink eventually flowed down to the general public. By the 19th century, newspaper advertisements promoted champagne as the beverage of choice for celebrating engagements, weddings, baptisms and special family gatherings.
6) Though christening ships with blood or red wine was practiced from ancient times, by the end of the 19th century, the tradition transformed into breaking a bottle of champagne over the bow of a ship before its maiden voyage.
7) Just before the advent of WWI, champagne became associated with sporting and outdoor events. The drink was initially consumed by those in attendance and not poured over victorious athletes. Also during this time, ongoing marketing techniques strove to broaden champagne’s appeal to a wider range of consumers.
8) When the United States Atlanta Braves professional baseball team won the World Series in 1958, the Chicago Tribune newspaper reported that the players “wildly poured champagne” over each other in celebration. This was the first documented instance of the practice.