What's the connection between bubbles and a buoyant mood? Here are five stories that go some way to explaining the fusion of fizz and fun.
1 It wasn't always so
Dom Pérignon's early experiments in the cellar of the Abbey at Hautvillers were a catastrophe of exploding glass. With one shattering bottle starting a domino effect of destruction, up to 90% of the year's wine production could be lost. Before the magic of carbonic fermentation was fully understood, no wonder it was called the Devil's Wine.
2 National hurrahs
With the chemistry under control (thanks to English input on bottle manufacture), we can fast forward 200 years to the mid-19th century. A time of great battles and political upheavals in Europe meant cause for rejoicing for many. Champagne producers increased stocks (from 300,000 bottles in 1800 to 20,000,000 in 1850). Celebrations were becoming linked to the now intentional popping of corks.
3 Rowdy hussars
Napoleon's sabre-wielding hussars could never be described as shrinking wallflowers. Returning thirsty from victories on the battlefields, they graced the grand balls and halls with dashing displays designed to thrill the assembled pompadoured wigs by decapitating the tops of bottles of fizz with their sabres. It's a trick that adds cachet to every party.
4 Sweetness and light
The Belle Epoque crystallises the glamour of sparkling's appeal. The comfortable rise of the bourgeoisie epitomised success, and the drinking of toasts widened its popularity from its aristocratic heritage to the pleasures of society and the family home. Luxury was in vogue. Christmas was in the process of being reinvented. Happy reasons to raise a glass were all the rage.
5 Smashing it
Of course, it's a waste of wonderful wine, but there's no doubt that celebration’s in the air when a sporting event is won and the big bottle gets shaken and the bubbles start to spray. In similar style, but with considerably more decorum, it's no longer holy water that launches a ship but at least a magnum of the sparkling stuff swung wildly into the air.
Over the centuries, one thing stands out that makes sparkling wine the go-to partner for celebrating life's special moments – its natural effervescence, the bubbles dancing in the glass. Does anything else even comes close to matching happiness and uplifting our spirits?
Whatever your reason for celebrating – Mother's Day, birthday, anniversary, or any one of the countless occasions that still occur despite the oddness of the times – think of Gusbourne as your sparkling companion.
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