Why do we Toast with Champagne?
Clink! Cheers! When it comes time to toast 2015 think about raising a glass to King Clovis. The embattled fifth-century French king has a lot to do with why we drink champagne on New Year’s Eve and other special occasions. According to Champagne: A Global History, Clovis promised his wife Clotilde he’d convert to Christianity if his armies won their next fight. They did and the king was baptized in Reims, the center of France’s Champagne region. Thereafter, French kings were crowned in Reims.
As the story goes, the royal court often lingered in town sipping the local wine in a post-coronation celebration. Eventually the vintners marketed the wine beyond the royal court. Today Champagne produces more than 300 million bottles a year, according to the Reims tourism board. Of course only sparkling wine produced in Champagne can be called champagne; everything else is, well, just sparkling wine. The European Union strictly enforces this law. However, US producers can use the term generically for labels pre-dating 2006.