Bubbles for Every Occasion: Why Champagne is the Go-To Drink for Celebrations

Have you ever wondered why we toast with Champagne? 

Whether you're celebrating a graduation, promotion, or a birthday, most of the time, at least one bottle of Champagne is waiting to be popped. 

But why always Champagne, and what's the significance? 

Let's look back on how Champagne rose to become the go-to drink for celebrations. 

But before we begin, let's clear up one common misconception. 

You don’t need Champagne to celebrate a special occasion or to give a toast! There are plenty of alcohol-free options available for you to still have a blast with your friends and family.  

The Origin of Champagne

The history of Champagne dates back to the Roman era, but the sparkling wine we now know as Champagne did not become popular until the 17th century. 

Winemakers in the region began experimenting with ways to make their wines sparkle. Adding a small amount of sugar and yeast to the wine, called the "Méthode Champenoise," produced the bubbles characteristic of Champagne.

There is a popular story that Champagne was made by accident in England, but the truth is still up for debate depending on who you ask. 

The traditional Champagne-making method involves a secondary fermentation in the bottle. The French monk Dom Pérignon discovered this when he found that the secondary fermentation caused the wine to become fizzy and effervescent. (Side note, who knew that Dom Pérignon was a monk?!)  

The Méthode Champenoise technique was further refined in the Champagne region by winemakers such as the Veuve Clicquot house. They developed processes for riddling and disgorgement to remove the sediment from the bottles.

Although the quality of the sparkling wine improved, the pressure of the bubbles would often cause bottles to explode unexpectedly. Not only ruining the bottle but even entire cellars full of Champagne!

Winemakers soon realized that the bottles needed to be made with stronger and thicker glass to protect the Champagne (and the drinkers!) Also, adding a cork stopper allowed Champagne to be stored and transported without losing its effervescence. 

After the bottle was perfected, Champagne became more widely available as it was easier to transport.

A Symbol of Wealth, Sophistication, and Celebration

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Champagne was the preferred wine of the French court. It became a symbol of luxury and elegance.

Due to its cost and novelty, Champagne soon turned into the favorite drink for royals across Europe— bottles upon bottles commemorated coronations, birthdays, and other royal festivities.

Entertainment among the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie was a significant part of the 18th century due to the economic growth in France, particularly in Paris. 

The rise of the bourgeoisie created a new class of wealthy individuals who could afford to celebrate and spend without worry.

Entertaining was a way for them to demonstrate their wealth and social status. Lavish parties and banquets allowed aristocrats and the bourgeoisie to show off their fine clothing, jewelry, and home decor to their guests. 

Also, aristocracy could build alliances and political power through entertaining and influencing guests with elaborate celebrations and fun (although most likely very hazy) nights. 

During the era of Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution, throwing extravagant gatherings was a big part of the royal family's "duties." Madame de Pompadour, the official chief mistress of Louis XV, allegedly ordered Champagne by the gallon for her festivities.

Rumor has it that for one of her parties in 1739, she and her guests ran through at least 1,800 Champagne bottles in one evening. 

After the French Revolution, Champagne also began to mark the joy and abundance of occasions. 

Symbolically, but also visually, as Champagne overflows when uncorked. 

Secular rituals began to replace religious traditions as societies moved away from religious influences. Sailors no longer needed to "christen a ship" with a priest. 

Popping open a bottle of Champagne on a ship symbolized good fortune for the voyage ahead. 

In the late 19th century, Champagne became a staple of the worldwide drinking culture.

Champagne's unique taste and effervescence also set it apart from other wines, making it a favorite among wine enthusiasts. 

Throwing glasses of Champagne on the floor at Russian weddings was one of the many ways different cultures used Champagne to celebrate moments of joy. 

Champagne vs. Prosecco vs. Cava

Is there a big difference between Champagne, Prosecco, and Cava? 


Although they are all sparkling wines, their origin, the grapes, the method used, and the price vary. 

For the wine to be labeled as Champagne, it must be exclusively produced in the Champagne region of northeastern France.  While Cava is produced in Spain, mainly in the Penedès region. 

Prosecco comes from Italy and is most commonly harvested in the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions.

Champagne is made from a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes. Cava is typically made from indigenous Spanish grapes like Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo, and Prosecco is made from Glera grapes.

Cava and Champagne are produced using the traditional method (Méthode Champenoise), which involves a secondary fermentation in the bottle. 

On the other hand, Prosecco is made using the Charmat method, also known as the tank method, which involves secondary fermentation in a large tank.

Known for its complex flavors and aromas, Champagne can include notes of citrus, green apple, brioche, and toasted nuts. 

Cava tends to be drier and crisper than Champagne, with flavors of lemon, green apple, and white peach. Prosecco is typically fruity and floral, with notes of green apple, pear, and honeysuckle.

Champagne is generally the most expensive of the three, followed by Cava and Prosecco, which are generally more affordable.

The Go-To-Drink for Celebrations

The sound of a Champagne cork popping is often associated with celebrations and special occasions. 

The sight of bubbles rising to the surface of a Champagne flute also adds to the festive atmosphere. 

Due to its taste, Champagne can be paired with various foods, making it a versatile drink for different occasions. It pairs well with seafood, cheese, and other appetizers, as well as with more substantial dishes like roast chicken or grilled fish. 

Champagne often signifies the start of a night when paired with appetizers or the end of a meal when paired with a dessert. 

Champagne is almost always used for many toasts as well. Even hundreds of years later, people celebrate events, people, or milestones by raising and clinking their Champagne-filled glasses. 

Non-Alcoholic Alternatives 

Just because Champagne is synonymous with celebration doesn't mean you need to feel obligated to grab a flute filled with Champagne next time you're honoring a special occasion with family and friends. 

Sparkling water is a simple and refreshing alternative to Champagne. You can add a twist of lemon, lime, or other fruit for flavor and garnish.

Sparkling grape juice is a non-alcoholic beverage similar in appearance and taste to Champagne. 

Also, several brands of non-alcoholic Champagne are readily available that taste just as delicious. 

These beverages are made using a similar method as traditional Champagne but with the alcohol removed. Our favorite is the Prima Pave Blanc de Blancs and part of the dri/kit's The Botanist

Kombucha is a fermented tea that has a slight effervescence and tangy flavor. You can add fruit or herbs for additional flavor.

Elderflower presse is a sweet and floral non-alcoholic beverage that can be served as an alternative as well. It is made from elderflowers, sugar, and sparkling water, and it can be garnished with fruit or herbs.

Serve these options in toasting flutes for a festive touch so that everyone can participate in raising their glasses together.

Celebrate Without the Headache

Although drinking Champagne is often glamorized, the morning after a night of Champagne isn't always so glamorous. 

Your head might hurt after a glass or two of Champagne due to the presence of biogenic amines. Without getting too technical, these substances are released during vinification and give rise to nitrogen compounds, which are derived from amino acids. 

Basically, biogenic animes can cause inflammation and bring on a migraine when consumed in excess. 

Opt for serving yourself an alcohol-free alternative and avoid the infamous champagne headache!

Written by: Elena Rogers

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