National Champagne Day: A History of Champagne & 5 Champagne Cocktails

National Champagne Day is an occasion that celebrates one of the world’s most iconic beverages! Today, we are going to chat about the history of champagne, tracing its origins and evolution over the centuries. Then, we’ll give you five yummy champagne cocktail recipes, perfect for any celebration or simply to add a touch of elegance to an otherwise normal day. So, let’s get started.

What Is Champagne?

Champagne is a unique type of sparkling wine that comes exclusively from the Champagne region of France. This distinction is crucial; only sparkling wines produced in this specific area, following strict guidelines, can be rightfully called champagne – we’ll cover this more below. 

How Is Champagne Made?

The process of making champagne is known as the traditional method or ‘méthode champenoise’, which involves a secondary fermentation in the bottle, creating the wine’s signature bubbles.

What Is Champagne Made Of?

The primary grapes used in champagne production are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Each grape contributes distinct characteristics: Chardonnay adds elegance and lightness, Pinot Noir brings body and structure, and Pinot Meunier offers freshness and a fruity aroma. 

What Impacts the Flavor of Champagne?

The precise blend of these grapes, along with factors like vineyard practices, aging, and the degree of sweetness (dosage), defines the style and flavor profile of the champagne. This meticulous process, combined with the region’s unique terroir, results in a beverage celebrated for its complexity, effervescence, and iconic status in the world of fine wines.

What Are the Rules for Calling a Wine “Champagne”?

As mentioned above, there are specific rules to ensure that any wine labeled as “Champagne” adheres to the rigorous standards that define this prestigious beverage, preserving its quality and heritage:

Geographic Origin

The wine must be produced in the Champagne region of France. This is the most fundamental rule, as the term “Champagne” is a protected designation of origin.

You can read more about this region here: Champagne wine region – Wikipedia

Grape Varieties

Only certain grape varieties are permitted, primarily Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. There are a few other lesser-known varieties also allowed.

Production Method

Champagne must be made using the traditional method, or ‘méthode champenoise’. This involves a secondary fermentation process in the bottle, which creates the wine’s bubbles.

Minimum Aging

Non-vintage champagne must age on its lees (yeast cells) for at least 15 months, while vintage champagne requires a minimum of 36 months. This aging contributes to the complexity and flavors of the champagne.

Yield Restrictions

Yield restrictions in Champagne dictate strict limits on the amount of grapes harvested per hectare, ensuring each vine is not overburdened and maintains a high concentration of flavors. This practice, emphasizing quality over quantity, results in grapes with greater complexity, essential for producing premium champagne.

Pressing Limits

Pressing limits in Champagne production strictly regulate the amount of juice extracted from grapes, ensuring only the highest quality juice is used. This controlled pressing process is crucial for maintaining the distinct flavor profile and excellence of champagne.


After aging, champagne undergoes dosage, where a mixture of wine and sugar is added. The amount and type of dosage determine the sweetness level of the champagne.

Quality Control

Before release, each batch of champagne is subject to official tasting and analysis to ensure it meets the high standards required for the designation.


The label must adhere to strict regulations, including displaying the term “Champagne” and other mandatory information such as alcohol content and bottle volume.

What Is the History of Champagne?

The history of Champagne is a fascinating journey that dates back to the Middle Ages, with its roots deeply intertwined with the region’s geography and the evolution of winemaking practices. Originally, wines from the Champagne region were still and predominantly red. 

The creation of sparkling Champagne as we know it today was largely a result of the region’s cooler climate, which caused fermentation to pause in the cold winter months and resume in spring, naturally creating carbonation in the wine. This initially unintended effervescence was first seen as a flaw, and early Champagne was known for being explosively bubbly and unpredictable.

17th Century Changes

The 17th century marked a pivotal moment in the history of Champagne, with the figure of Dom Pérignon, a Benedictine monk, often credited with many innovations that helped refine the production of sparkling wine. Contrary to popular belief, Dom Pérignon did not invent sparkling wine, but he did contribute significantly to improving its quality. 

He introduced practices like blending grapes from different vineyards, using cork stoppers secured with string, and meticulous control over the fermentation process. These advancements played a crucial role in transforming Champagne into a deliberately crafted sparkling wine.

19th Century and Present Day

By the 19th century, Champagne had firmly established itself as a symbol of luxury and celebration. The introduction of riddling and disgorging processes by Madame Clicquot, of the famous Veuve Clicquot Champagne house, further enhanced the clarity and quality of Champagne. 

These techniques, along with advancements in bottle manufacturing, allowed Champagne producers to control and refine the effervescence and taste, setting the stage for the modern Champagne industry. 

Today, Champagne is not just a testament to centuries of winemaking tradition, but also a continuing symbol of refinement, celebration, and culinary art.

What Does Champagne Taste Like?

Champagne is renowned for its complex flavor profile, characterized by a delicate balance of crisp acidity, fruity notes, and yeasty undertones. Its taste, however, can range from rich and creamy to light and zesty, often with hints of citrus, almond, and brioche, depending on the blend and aging process. 

Are There Different Types of Champagne?

Yes, there are several different types of Champagne, each distinguished by its unique characteristics and production methods. The primary types include:

  1. Non-Vintage Champagne: This is the most common type, blended from grapes of different years to maintain a consistent house style.
  2. Vintage Champagne: Made exclusively from grapes harvested in a single year, these are produced only in exceptional vintages and are known for their higher quality and aging potential.
  3. Blanc de Blancs: Literally meaning “white from whites,” this type is made entirely from Chardonnay grapes, known for its elegance and crisp acidity.
  4. Blanc de Noirs: Contrasting Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, meaning “white from blacks,” is made exclusively from black grapes, typically Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier, offering a fuller body and more intense fruit flavors.
  5. Rosé Champagne: Produced either by blending red and white wines or by brief contact with the grape skins, rosé champagnes are noted for their depth and versatility in flavor.
  6. Prestige Cuvée: These are top-of-the-line champagnes from a producer, often made from the best grapes in the best years and given extensive aging.

When Is National Champagne Day?

National Champagne Day is celebrated annually on December 31st, coinciding with New Year’s Eve, a time perfect for toasts and celebrations. This day offers a perfect opportunity to enjoy and appreciate the history and celebratory nature of this iconic sparkling wine.

What’s the History of National Champagne Day?

The history of National Champagne Day isn’t well documented in its origin like many traditional holidays. However, its timing (New Year’s Eve) suggests that the day likely evolved as a natural extension of the long-standing tradition of toasting with champagne to ring in the new year, symbolizing luxury, festivity, and new beginnings. Over time, it has become an unofficial yet widely recognized day to celebrate the rich history and indulgent experience of drinking champagne.

Are There Any Champagne Cocktails?

While champagne isn’t necessarily a spirit, you can still make cocktails from it. In fact, there are many popular champagne cocktails. Some popular examples include:

Champagne Cocktail #1: The Mimosa

The Mimosa is a highly popular, refreshing, and simple cocktail, perfect for brunches. It combines the crispness of champagne with the citrusy sweetness of orange juice.

  1. Pour 2 ounces of chilled orange juice into a champagne flute.
  2. Top with 4 ounces of chilled champagne, gently stirring to combine.

Champagne Cocktail #2: The Bellini

The Bellini is an Italian classic, known for its sweet, fruity flavor. It’s a blend of peach purée and champagne, ideal for summer gatherings.

  1. Add 2 ounces of peach purée to a champagne flute.
  2. Slowly pour in 4 ounces of chilled champagne and stir gently.

Champagne Cocktail #3: The Champagne Cocktail

This timeless cocktail is both elegant and flavorful, featuring a blend of bitters, sugar, and champagne. It’s perfect for a sophisticated evening.

  1. Place a sugar cube in a champagne flute and soak it with 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters.
  2. Fill the glass with 5 ounces of chilled champagne and garnish with a lemon twist.

Champagne Cocktail #4: The French 75

The French 75 is a zesty and spirited cocktail that combines gin and champagne, with a touch of lemon for added freshness. It’s great for celebratory occasions.

  1. In a shaker, combine 1 ounce of gin, 1/2 ounce of fresh lemon juice, and 1/2 ounce of simple syrup; shake with ice.
  2. Strain into a flute and top with 3 ounces of champagne, then garnish with a lemon twist.

Champagne Cocktail #5: The Kir Royale

The Kir Royale is a chic and simple cocktail, blending the sweet blackcurrant flavor of crème de cassis with the bubbly nature of champagne.

  1. Pour 1 ounce of crème de cassis into a champagne flute.
  2. Gently top with 5 ounces of chilled champagne and stir lightly.

How to Make the Best Champagne Cocktails:

Here are a few tips to help you make the most delicious champagne cocktails possible:

  1. Use Quality Champagne
  2. Incorporate Fresh Ingredients
  3. Include Local Spirits
  4. Chill Your Ingredients and Glassware

Distillery Nearby: Your Choice for Spirits to Add to Your Champagne Cocktails on National Champagne Day

When mixing up your champagne cocktails for National Champagne Day, consider adding a local touch with spirits from nearby distilleries. Supporting local distilleries not only boosts the local economy but also gives your cocktails a unique, regional twist

Many local distilleries offer artisanal spirits, ranging from classic gins and vodkas to more unique and regional liquors, providing an excellent opportunity to experiment with new flavors in your champagne concoctions. But, how do you find those distilleries? That’s where we come in:

Visit our by-state distillery directory to find exceptional and unique distilleries near you. Discover the perfect local spirit to incorporate into your celebratory drinks and support your local community! 

Go There Now →

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