Benjamin Franklin once wrote in a light-hearted manner, “Let us, then, with glass in hand, adore this benevolent wisdom; — let us adore and drink!” It is the ending remark he expressed when he wrote about how we should be filled with gratitude because of how our elbows are strategically placed in the human anatomy.

 

The whole letter, which can be taken as an indication of the nonchalant side of Benjamin Franklin, lets us see how wine has become a part of celebration throughout history adding that it helped men discover the truth (In vito veritas).

 

Indeed, men discovered the truth wine completes a celebration. 

 

Let the Drinking Begin

 

However, the concept of wine as part of merrymaking has been long recorded in ancient history. Wine is undoubtedly part of our civilisation. It dates back to ancient Greece, at the time people were strongly practicing polytheism.

 

With people believing in different gods, Dionysus became one of the most famous deities. He is, after all, known as the Greek god of wine and an advocate of civilised life. As what ancient Greek historian Thucydides observed, the cultivation of olive and wines led to the decline of the old barbaric ways of the people. In fact, a theatrical event called Greater Dionysia was held in honour of Dionysus wherein as many as thousands of people from Athens would attend. Of course, this occasion was coupled with generous amount of wine for everyone to enjoy.

 

This wine drinking carried on for many years, until that time of Aesop. To prove this, drinking parties were a norm back then, in a more formal gathering called symposium.

 

In a Greek symposium, men would be invited to a private house to engage in amusing discussion. In this activity, guests would be treated to different wines accompanied by scrumptious meals. While drinking wines, men would often talk about different subjects such as politics and poetry. Playing games and listening to music are also part of the symposium. At some point, the guests would also request entertainment from highly trained courtesans called hetairai.

 

Wine can be considered as more important than water back then as people would prefer to drink wine most of the time. Perhaps it is because wine drinkers during the ancient period were seen as creative types, who are always into intellectual discussions, philosophical, and passionate. When the widespread cultivation and drinking of wine reached other parts of Europe, it became part of one’s diet and would usually be paired with meals.

 

As the years goes by, wine evolved. More varieties were introduced, more regions began cultivating vineyards, far more advance winemaking technology was applied, and the taste for wine drinking became more selected or refined.

 

Champagne: A Celebratory Essential

 

People now associate celebrations with bubbly wines — or specifically Champagne. But just like any good bottle of wine that needs ageing, it took some time before Champagne’s reputation came to be what it is known today. 

 

Historically, during the 16th century the Champagne makers were vying for competition with its neighbouring regions namely Bordeaux and Burgundy. The grapes harvested at the Champagne region did not ripen enough and contains a lot of acid. Another one of the concerns these winemakers have is the presence of bubbles once the wines are bottled and sealed. This posed an early problem with Champagne because of the danger from exploding bottles caused by the pressure inside [from the bubbles].

 

So how did Champagne become a drink for modern celebrations despite this concern? According to Kolleen M. Guy, author of the book "When Champagne Became French" and associate professor of history [at University of Texas, San Antonio], “it became a part of the secular rituals that replaced formerly religious rituals”.

 

Dom Perignon, a Dominican monk, started to embrace the bubbles after several attempts of preventing it. The winemakers then created the Champagne in a way that it’ll be exclusive only their region. And in 1662, the characteristic of this drink was further enhanced when a scientist named Christopher Merret documented that adding sugar to Champagne promotes carbonation, in turn making the wine look sparkling.

 

The Rheims in Champagne is the location where royalties of France were usually crowned as the new kings or queens of the country. And one of the ‘royal’ task the newly crowned king or queen must do was to pop open a Champagne bottle. This particular sparkling wine was also the choice of drink for royal courts; and often comes with an exorbitant price that it was viewed as a symbol of status and power. The public at that time, admiring the royal family, looked at this experience as a momentous event; thus they too wanted to be able to open and serve wine for their own celebrations.

 

This started an idea for winemakers. As a perfect marketing tactic, they eventually made a connection between celebrations and drinking Champagne. When the religious sector lost control over the production of the wine by the late 17th century, Champagne started to become the choice for events and festivities.

 

By 18th century, the rich class would often throw lavish parties with Champagne as the main spectacle. Guests were entertained as to how the corks would fly out from the bottle. One notable party would be the one Madame de Pompadour threw in 1739: an extravagant masked ball at Hôtel de Ville with at least 1,800 bottles of Champagne.

As the centuries unfold, Champagne continued to be an important part of parties, occasions, and life milestones. It is used at opening ceremonies, celebrating birthdays and weddings, and is present for most holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s. With its status continually rising because of the aspirational desire of the people, the so-called ‘royal roots’ passed down through generations, and the practice of people to reward themselves with something that is of high value; Champagne will still be one of the top wine choices for celebrations to come.

 

Our wide selection of Champagnes and other bubbly wines will surely keep your events more memorable!