A Bit of Sparkle
Champagne is a wine that can turn any occasion into a celebration
Burgundian winemakers introduced sparkling pinot noirs in the 1820s, though today Australian Shiraz is the most respected sparkling red. Span-ish cava, also made in the méthode champenoise, was first commercially available in 1872, from the house of Codorn\u00edu; the first mayor of Los Angeles, Benjamin Davis Wilson, made California's original sparkling in 1855, at the San Gabriel Winery.
We can thank the French for champagne's association with weddings. From the 12th to the 19th century, Reims, a city in the Champagne region, was the designated place for French coronations, and so its wines became associated with pageantry. Champagne, once introduced to the Court of Versailles, was a rare and expensive product, and this, along with the sweetness that characterized it until the mid-19th century, reinforced bubbly as the beverage for marking special occasions. In belle époque France, champagne labels often recommended it be served at such events as an engagement (fiancé champagne), wedding (champagne nuptial), or baptism (bébé champagne). So as champagne began to be exported to England and the United States, it was established as a matrimonial beverage in those markets, too.
From left: Roman centerpieces, $386; round footed centerpiece, $285, both from Match, match1995.com. "Bunny" crystal flutes, $78 each, from William Yeoward, williamyeowardcrystal.com. Vintage 1999 champagne, $149, from Dom Pérignon, domperignon.com. "Amalia" flute, $55, from Juliska, juliska.com. "Lady Hamilton" flute, $145, from Moser, moserusa.com. "Duchesse" champagne saucer, $40, by Vera Wang from Wedgwood, wedgwood.com.