Happy New Year from the crew at Vintage Cellars! We'd like to remind you that tonight, when you're raising your glass with family and friends, to not forget a small, personal toast for that beverage of celebration: champagne! If you're looking for a great new bubbly to try, here's the San Francisco Chronicle's 100 Top Wines list, headed by seven great champagnes.
In honor of New Year's Eve, we bring you a few interesting tidbits you might not have known about the world's most beloved sparkling beverage:
- Champagne was associated from the beginning with the anointment of French kings. Since then, the word "champagne" has been synonymous with luxury and power.
- Contrary to popular belief, Dom Perignon did not invent sparkling wine. It was invented by English scientist and physician Christopher Merret in 1662, when he presented the Royal Society with a paper in which he detailed the "méthode champenoise," basically, how to add sugar for a secondary fermentation that produces bubbles.
- In France, the first champagne was created by mistake. Accidental secondary fermentation caused bottles to spontaneously explode from the pressure of carbonation. Because of this, the French called champagne "the devil's wine."
- Champagne was always sweet until 1876, when Brut was first created.
- Bubbles occur when the liquid contacts small imperfections in the glass. These "nucleation points" are often added to champagne glasses with acid, a laser, or a glass etching tool.
- Bottling champagne in magnum-sized bottles is said to produce a higher quality beverage, as there is less oxygen in the larger bottle, and the volume-to-surface area ratio creates bubbles of a perfect size.
- Champagne corks are originally shaped like cylinders. Pressure forces them into their distinct mushroom shape. The longer champagne has been in the bottle, the more mushroom-shaped the cork.
- Champagne is usually served in a champagne flute. The shape of the other common glass, the Victorian flute, with the wide, short bowl, is said to have been modeled from the breast of Marie Antoinette.
- When opened correctly, a bottle of champagne won't make a loud popping sound, as this means you might be spilling-and wasting! The sighing sound of a properly opened cork is called "le soupir amoureux" (the loving whisper).