Why we’ve been breaking out the bubbly for NYE since the 1800s

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New Orleans (WGNO) - Breaking out the bubbly for New Year’s Eve? You’re probably not alone. Champagne has been used to mark huge events since the 1800s. But the popular drink came to be by accident.

“Because of very cold temperatures and how fermentation happens, occasionally, the wine wouldn’t stay still, instead you would end up with this effervescence, with this sparkling. But initially this was considered bad, and people didn’t want the bubbles in their wine. However, over time, it’s seen as something unusual, something special and people begin to ask for it," Drink & Learn Historian Elizabeth Pearce said.

A monk and a widow helped perfect the process: Don Perignon and Veuve Clicquot.

“To ensure that it stays sparkling and bubbly, it needs to stay in the bottle, so that’s how the carbonation stays intact. And really until the late 18th, early 19th century, shipping a bottle of anything along very bumpy roads, across the ocean is an iffy proposition. There’s a lot of breakage, corks popping – and because of all this loss, champagne remains an expensive thing," Pearce said. "Well, as we all know, whatever the rich people drink eventually everybody else wants to drink that too."

And champagne, while popular across the world, has a special relationship with New Orleans.

"In the early 19th century, it was noted that there were only two cities in the United States where you could regularly, and easily, order a single glass of champagne at a saloon -- and that was New Orleans and New York," said Pearce.

What about when alcohol was outlawed?

"It’s as if Prohibition never happened. And the champagne flowed like it was the Mississippi River," said Pearce.

And decades later, that love for champagne has not faltered.

"It’s a city that believes in celebration - and in celebrating every day. That’s why champagne is the perfect drink for New Orleans," said Pearce.

So this weekend, make sure to make a toast to the drink that sparkles the most… Cheers!

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