Marie Antoinette, Grace Kelly and the History of the New Year’s Toast
In a couple days we will gather with and count down the New Year. Whether you are watching the ball drop from your television or in the center of Times Square, there most likely will be a glass of champagne in your hand. I was curious as to why we choose champagne for toasts on momentous occasions like weddings, birthdays and holidays and found out some pretty interesting knowledge.
For the longest time, champagne was mostly drunk by men who were attracted by the unofficial endorsement of royal and noble men. Men of all classes and statures flocked to the bubbly on a regular basis, but in the early 19th Century champagne manufacturers thought it was time to start appealing to women. In order to get the attention of ladies, bottles were designed with labels depicting beautiful scenes that like romantic dates, weddings and christenings (not as romantic but very important to women as a special event). The tactic worked but also influenced drinkers to save champagne for more special occasions instead of daily happy hour.
Most drinkers reach for a champagne flute, a tall thin glass that connoisseurs recommend for a better drinking experience. A flute will not over-expose the drink to oxygen and directs the nose toward the wine allowing for optimal flavor. However, coupe glasses are known to come in and out of style for their chic shape although they may weaken the flavor of champagne. They are rumored to have been made from a mold of Marie Antoinette’s left breast as a birthday present to her husband Louis XVI. They were meant to signify the drinks coming from the kindness of her heart. I prefer these shallow, bowl-like glasses because they make me feel like Grace Kelly.
(source Anatomy of a Classic)
However you choose to drink your champagne this New Year’s Eve, please do so safely. When combined with carbonated water, alcohol is consumed more rapidly and champagne’s bubbles work the same way. They aren’t lying when they say champagne goes right to your head!