Why We Drink Champagne on New Year’s Eve


The title of this piece admittedly may be misleading, as I don’t have a clear answer as to why millions of people ring in the New Year with a kiss and a glass of bubbly.

But why get bogged down in the details, right? Champagne really is the quintessential drink to mark new beginnings, a festive event, and one’s appreciation for all the good things in our lives. Many think the ceremonious popping of the cork resembles a start gun used for races, as if to say, “On your mark, get set, go!”

First discovered in 1531 by the Benedictine Monks in the Abbey of Saint Hilaire, Champagne is wine that transforms into a sparkling wine through the addition of sugars after primary fermentation in order to stimulate dormant yeast and create the wine’s carbonation. Forty years after its initial discovery, a monk name Dom Perignon was claimed to be the true inventor of Champagne, though that remains a myth. To be labeled Champagne, it must come from the Champagne region of France, adhere to certain aspects of viticulture and contain specific blends of grapes.

By 1850, demand for Champagne reached international markets and production grew to 20 million bottles a year. Around this time, a less-sweet Champagne was invented by Perrier-Jouët, who decided not to sweeten his 1846 vintage before transporting it to London. By 1876, Brut Champagne was created primarily for the British, who preferred the not-so-sweet version of Champagne.

This Missoula New Year’s Eve, you can pop a bottle of your favorite bubbly with your favorite loved ones. And if you’re still looking for a nice bottle to open, check out some the hot spots with knowledgeable staff, like Worden’s, Liquid Planet and the Good Food Store.

If you want something a little different, Caffe Dolce is offering up a unique dinner with optional wine pairings on New Year’s Eve. Ten Spoon Vineyard is offering live music by David Boone at 5 p.m. and wine flights or wine by the glass. The Missoula Winery is hosting a New Year’s Party, starting at 8 p.m., which includes Hors d’oeuvres, wine, and a Champagne toast at midnight. Tickets for this event are $12 per person.

And what would Missoula be like without its annual First Night celebration, a day-long, family-friendly, and non-alcoholic way to ring in the New Year?

Tell us, where will you be celebrating the New Year and what will you be drinking? Details about who you will be kissing, however, need not be shared.


Thirsty for more? Missoula’s beverage expert, Ryan Newhouse, has more on tap: Beer Brings Jobs to MontanaBeerTrips.com Creates Getaways for Beer Lovers, and The Best Bars for Celebrating a Birthday.

Looking for a local bar or pub? Check out our Missoula Restaurants and Dining and Missoula Nightlife sections.

   Visit the Drink It Missoula archive.


Ryan Newhouse has lived in Missoula since 2002 and has tipped his glass in most of the town’s establishments. He is (in no particular order) a full-time writer, husband, and parent, and a part-time zymurgist. He makes a mean hard cider and pairs his cocktails with dishes from his blog, Cooked Animals: Recipes for Wild Game.