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LIVE 24-SEVEN


GR E E T INGS FOR THE NEW Y E A R ! 2 0 2 0


I thought it would be interesting this month, following all the indulgence and excess of recent days (*scuffs feet nervously and keeps eyes firmly lowered…), rather than look at suggestions of what to drink…you might be interested as to why corks pop on New Year’s Eve…


After the French Revolution, it became a part of the secular rituals that replaced formerly religious rituals. For example, it was possible to ‘Christen’ a ship without a priest, if you were to use the 'holy water' of Champagne.


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Dom Perignon added two safety features to its wines to avoid bottle explosions: thicker glass bottles to withstand the pressure and a rope snare to keep corks in place. These bottles became perfect for popping on New Year's Eve. However, it was not all fun and games and times were often very hard, so hard that eventually the price of Champagne declined and producers began to market the wine to less affluent customers in the 1800s. Since the wine had been long associated with nobility, it was advertised as an aspirational drink.


Around the end of the fifth century, King Clovis was fighting to defend his land and it is said that he promised his wife (Clotilde, from the central region of Burgundy) that if he was victorious, he would not only become King of all the areas of France, but a Christian too. Surprise, surprise, Clovis kept his promise to his wife and was baptised in Reims, in the heart of France's Champagne region and for centuries, French kings continued to be crowned there. Reims (and Champagne) became the place to be for all things royal, which would almost always include some of the region's finest local wines.


Hautvillers then acquired a new cellar master, a monk named Dom Perignon, who went on to cement the reputation of Champagne and by the beginning of the next century the bubbling, sparkling wine had become such a favourite of French


royalty that King Louis XV started making laws governing just what could be called Champagne and how it could be sold – quite a canny move for the time really. It was the only wine that could be sold in bottles and his utter loyalty and endorsement of the product made it not only popular at the royal court, but among the would-be royals and nobility too. Champagne-region wines were the only wines allowed to be used to celebrate the end of the French Revolution at the Fête de la Fédération and even became an integral part of the Congress of Vienna. Champagne also became widely used to celebrate the signings of major treaties and the end of diplomatic meetings.


It wasn't until the 1800s that staying up for a midnight party at New Year became a common tradition, and we know Champagne was a major part of it from at least mid-century. Champagne wasn't always the only New Year's drink, even though written references to mid-century celebrations usually do mention Champagne. Another popular drink was Arrack punch – when I researched this further, the description "a villainous compound in 1852" came up. What a fantastic description for a rum-like drink


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WINING & DINING WINE EXPER T


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