Raising a Glass: British Royalty’s Love for Champagne

“Only the unimaginative can fail to find a reason for drinking champagne” – Oscar Wilde 

Distinguished, distinctive and delectable with a pedigreed taste for life’s most epicurean decadence…And a weakness for royals.

If champagne could appear on a dating profile this should rather be the opening line to the remaining introduction. 

Synonymous with all things high-brow and a price tag from two to the five figures, this elite, bubble-abundant classic created in the Champagne region of France continues to periodically reign over its fellow European sparkling siblings, and has forevermore captivated the hearts of our beloved Royal Family.

Sipping my way through the ice-chilled, twinkling crystalline contents of my dainty flute, I attempt to delve that little bit little deeper into the historical chronicles of this Lucullan Seventh Avenue refreshment, and its eternal courtship with the Monarchs which has seen it remain their ultimate, sparkling celebration tipple of choice for generations.

The diamond-encrusted, silver-spoon dawning of champagne can begin to be unearthed as deep into the 1st Century with the somewhat unintentional unearthing of its discovery,  starting when the Romans had set about enriching their vine hectares which brought to fruition our cherished grape-infused wine creation within the Champagne region. By the time of the emergence of the 9th Century, our then non-sparkling intoxicant formed a blossoming prosperous union, as the celebratory drink of choice for the enthroning coronation occasions of France’s illustrious sovereign kings.

Raising a Glass: British Royalty's Love for Champagne
Voyage de presse en Champagne : découverte du vignoble. Maison de Champagne Bollinger.

An amusing tale to discover, those nanoscopic blissful bursts of bubbles we’ve come to cherish and relish were but, merely, a quirky incident. Infamous for some of the harshest Winter spells, the fermentation exercise would encounter a standstill as soon as the Champagne district was tormented by plummeting glacial intervals, before firing up in the midsummer climate to give way to those fizzy carbon dioxide bubbles created from the second carbonate wave. 

While initially certified as flawed by vintner pundits, the minuscule flares of sparkles garnered a somewhat quirky reputation. Gingerly, this began to capture the tastebuds of the French royals in the late 17th century and thus, gave rise to the lionised genesis of those esteemed Champagne houses we have come to adore, one such prominent devotee being Louis XIV, “the Sun King,” establishing his stance as an inestimable ambassador for Champagne, as he went about spending those golden years quenching his thirst on the sybaritic beverage during every meal on the valuable advice of his faithful doctor, Antoine d’Aquin.

A flourishing adulation within France’s aristocratic society lead to the establishment of our highly lauded Champagne houses, where their fine sparkle-abundant tipple flowed endlessly at grandeur coronation regales as the nation celebrated the crowning of their Royals Champagne’s Reims Cathedral from 816 to 1825, with Charles X being the last King of France to be coronated. Ruinart was the first to open its cellar doors in 1729, while 1825 brought in the blue-blooded bearings of Laurent-Perrier, presently followed by Pol Roger in 1849.

Victorious in its gloried reign as “the wine of Kings and the King of wines”, noble imperials across the European continent found themselves aboard the bubble bandwagon, very notably our dearest Great Britain. 

The dry, yet smooth texture with an impeccable profile of almond pastry notes, entwined with crisp apple and soft grape aromas had captivated the polished palate of Queen Victoria, and thus with the assistance of Her Majesty’s travel director J. J. Kanne, placed a request of 100 bottles of Champagne to the British Embassy in Paris during a trip to the Parisian capital in 1868, swiftly thereafter assuring the provider the provider that, “the wine was served at the Queen’s table every day”.

Synonymous also with the bountiful world of serendipity and high-toned jamborees, it was believed the essence of the christening of ships smashing a bottle against the hull, was traced back to the British royals and the country’s yesteryear, and brought to fruition during the Queen Victoria’s ruling which to this present day, continues to breathe life into the tradition as supported with the christening of HMS Prince of Wales by The Queen Consort in 2019.

With the Queen’s discernible and affectionate demonstration of admiration displayed for this prestigious sparkling nectare, it was during Her Majesty’s ruling right from 1837, that the British nation witnessed the genesis of the sacred awarding of royal warrants to Champagne producers until her death in 1901, including Sir Winston Churchill’s favoured cuvee of Pol Roger granted in 1877, tinted with powerful scents of pear and mango, swirled with delicate hints of jasmine and honeysuckle.   

Not one to be solely content with her own devotion to her champagne affair, the Queen’s fascination with this distinguished shimmering wine has contributed in infatuating her bluestocking successors in an everlasting royal champagne liaison. Her son, King Edward VII had earned himself a frivolous reputation of luxuriating in a champagne bath by way of showcasing his adulation for the liquid fare, while the late treasured Queen Elizabeth II was rather known to go about indulging herself in a chilled glass (or two) of Champagne, by way of celebrating the end of each day. 

Raising a Glass: British Royalty's Love for Champagne
Coupes de Champagne

Such is the versatility of this saluted royal refreshment, hedonistic champagne connoisseurs can find themselves quenching their thirst with a leisurely pre-dining aperitif of this effervescent wine, while equally respectable to relish in an exquisite multi-champagne dining experience awakening a medley of tantalising tastes and fragrant flavours.

The dainty hints of brioche in a pouring of Pol Roger Demi-Sec NV, entwined with the rich softness of acacia honey and apricots proves the perfect dessert pairing alongside a spiced red plum and warm gingerbread, while the impeccably crisp creation of Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut NV, right from our freshly crowned King Charles III personal favourite champagne house works in harmony with a butter soft, tender new season lamb courtesy of its deep red fruit intensity and light vigour.

Champagne devotees with a climate-conscious psyche can also sip with ease owing to The Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne (VDC) enterprise. A practice focused on elevated guidance on the use of inputs to assist in diminishing energy dependency and carbon footprint, the cause is one to be close to the heart of King Charles III whom for decades, has voiced his ardent fervour in battling the spheres environmental challenges.

With an everlasting helping hand from the 1941 founded Comité Champagne renowned for representing the common interests for growers and houses, the world of Champagne continues to immersive themselves in a continually aspiring carbon plan that witnessed Champagne as the first wine region to assess its carbon footprint in the early 2000s, no sooner accompanied by the honour of a World Heritage Status grant to a plethora of Champagne houses and cellars by UNESCO in 2015.

Raising a Glass: British Royalty's Love for Champagne
Maison de Champagne Taittinger : caves.

With Champagne houses currently embracing nine of twenty non-British Royal Warrant holders, it has been unequivocally illustrated as to how Champagne has, and continues to form the fabric while gracing the crystal glasses of British royalty, not neglecting our highborn elite society as we seek to perpetually keep our fine flutes a flow, and raise a glass or three to our beloved royals with the luminous golden and rose tinted tipple we’ve learnt to cherish and savour. 

Anuja Gaur

Anuja Gaur is a freelance luxury restaurant and travel writer based in Hertfordshire, UK. She is also an associate at an award-winning hedge fund in Mayfair. Her passion for fine food, illustrious hotels and an all-round love for the finer things in life has sent her to the most prestigious establishments, creating high-quality writing content that is honest, detailed and enjoyable, which invites readers on her immersive luxe filled writers journey.