Sparkling white wine is a popular celebratory drink and is often called Champagne.

However, this name only refers to a wine that is produced in the French region of Champagne and EU regulations enforce the region’s vineyards exclusive right to the word. These rules do not stop English speakers from casually calling all sparkling white wines Champagne. 

Sparkling wine is usually white or rosé with high levels of carbon dioxide resulting from the fermentation process. A typical bottle has a pressure five or six times that of the atmosphere and is the reason a bottle emits a loud pop, followed by fizzing when opened. These qualities are appreciated at parties; they echo the fireworks of New Year’s Eve or a national holiday. The drink is also notable for the many, large bubbles that form on the glass. Carbon dioxide molecules latch onto the glass when poured ad give the wine its nickname of “bubbly”.

Effervescence is a natural characteristic of sparkling wine but the carbonation process was not understood for a long time: it was often interpreted through superstitions as it was attributed to good or bad spirits. The lack of knowledge and not resistant bottles meant the pressure was relatively low. A confluence of trade, tastes, and technology led to the increased popularity of sparkling wine.

British high society saw this as a positive quality and began to request such wines. In the mid-17th century, a British scientist discovered that by adding sugar to any wine would create the desired bubbles. This period also saw the introduction of coal-fired glass production which led to much stronger bottles.

Sugar was added to imported wine, which was then poured into the new robust bottles, and finally topped with the recently reintroduced corks. These technological innovations and colonialism spread the drink across Europe and its colonies. 

Today we still enjoy this drink and use it to celebrate!

Here at IMS Vintage Photos we wish you a happy new year!