“Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right,” were wise words from famed American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald. As perhaps the most revered and idolized beverage of all time, Champagne has long been the beverage denoting luxury and celebration, especially on New Year’s Eve.
Champagne is actually a region in France…and, only bubbly wines grown in this area can be named Champagne on the bottle. But how did this fizzy delicacy become the most popular drink for toasting? And why is it called a toast anyway?
Dating back to the fifth century in France, kings were coronated in Reims Cathedral in the Champagne region. The area’s sparkling wines flowed freely at the coronation banquets and soon became the preferred beverage for royal visitors. The drink quickly became sought after by other royal courts of Europe. Because royalty wanted it, so did everyone else.
Most wine-making countries have their own version of sparkling wine. You may enjoy Cava from Spain, Prosecco from northern Italy, Sekt from Germany, or sparkling wines from Texas. With the wide range of styles and flavors in bubbly wines worldwide, it’s no wonder sparkling wines are the drink of preference when it comes to ringing in the new year and toasting the anticipation for what is to come.
While it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the first toast was made, there is evidence that the Ancient Greeks of the 6th Century BC would raise a glass of wine and praise their gods to gain good health and a long life. In fact, the act of drinking to each other’s health was so important to the Romans that the Senate passed a decree stating all must drink to Emperor Augustus at every meal. This practice of giving praise evolved into celebrating a person at the table as well as an important figure or celebrity not present. The tradition probably became known as a “toast” because, in the late 17th century, adding a small piece of scorched toast to a glass of wine was common. The taste of bad wine and old bread were both improved.
The English began stringing together witty lines as a toast, and today, the sentiment is a sort of verbal souvenir to take away from a celebration. Toasting became so popular during the 17th and 18th centuries that Toastmasters came into being to act as a kind of party referee. They ensured that the toasting didn’t become excessive, and everyone got their fair share of toasting opportunities.
As you prepare to raise a glass in honor of the coming year, you can fashion a toast from your favorite quote, song lyrics, a verse from a prayer or blessing, or just say what you feel in your heart at the moment. Here are some toasts to consider for your own New Year’s celebration:
*Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. Here’s to the new year.
*As we look to 2024, we should learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow.
*Tomorrow is the first page of a new book – a new year. Choose your words wisely.
*Some of the best days of our lives haven’t happened yet. Enjoy 2024!
*May we live as long as we want and never want as long as we live.
As you consider which bottle of bubbly you’d like to pop open and toast to the new year, these Texas wineries have great options:
- Messina Hof Winery
- McPherson Cellars
- Hilmy Cellars
- Heath Sparkling Wines
- Hidden Hanger Vineyard and Winery
- Farmhouse Vineyards
- 4R Ranch Vineyards and Winery
Oscar Wilde mused, “Only the unimaginative can fail to find a reason for drinking Champagne.” So, whatever your favorite bottle of bubbles may be, here’s to a year of love in your heart and bubbles in your glass!