“I drink Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it — unless I’m thirsty.” – Madame Lily Bollinger
Weddings, birthdays, New Year’s Eve… these are all celebrations that simply feel incomplete without one key ingredient: sparkling wine or bubbly.
Champagne has been used to mark important occasions since the fifth century when King Clovis lifted a glass of local wine to mark the union of all Franks which would later become modern-day France. Champagne soon became popular among French royalty. Those that survived the French Revolution used it to mark secular rather than religious rituals – you could christen a ship without a priest, for example, by using the “holy water” of Champagne. Gradually, Champagne became more affordable, allowing non-royals to enjoy the sparkling wine, but it was still too expensive for most to enjoy every day and was only brought out on special occasions. The sentiment of sparkling wine being special remains today.
Surprising, however, is that Champagne wasn’t always sparkling. While the pink-tinged wines have been drunk since the Roman times and became key parts of royal coronation festivities in the tenth century, it was only in the 1600s that Champagne found its bubble by a monk named Dom Pierre Perignon. Yet, what most forget about this story is that the monk originally wanted to get rid of the bubbles in his wine, as they were seen as an undesirable fault. The méthode Champenoise – where secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle to produce the fizz – was only made popular once British aristocrats declared their love for the wine that sparkled and glowed with effervescence.
While most sparkling wines, from Champagne to Prosecco, Cava to South Africa’s own Cap Classique, can be enjoyed as an aperitif or party drink, many have the complexity to be paired with a range of food. Sparkling wine’s natural acidity makes an excellent pairing for anything salty or fried. Think oysters, caviar, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or even salted fries.
Belthazar’s selection of bubbly wines from all over the world make it the perfect place for a celebration, be it Christmas, New Year’s or simply a toast to endings and new beginnings.