Champagne is the beverage of choice for celebrating all of life’s occasions. Champagne’s evolution, as the drink of kings to the bubbles of the stars, has lots of twists and turns. Selecting, storing and serving champagne is an art
"Burgundy makes you think of silly things; Bordeaux makes you talk
about them, and Champagne makes you do them." Brillat-Savarin
Henry IV was the first to serve Champagne at court in the 1500s. Thank you,
King Hank! Henry and his court knew the grapes in the Champagne region made a
fine tasting wine. They didn’t quite understand the process, but the cold
weather in the region prevented the bottled grapes from finishing their
fermentation in the winter. When Spring hit, and the bottled wine began to warm,
the fermentation would start again. The bubbles caused by the fermentation were
captured in the bottles, and a new beverage was born! Upon tasting champagne, a
monk, named Dom Perignon was supposed to have exclaimed, "Come quickly, I’m
tasting the stars!"
In the late 1600s British glass blowers made bottles strong enough hold up
under the pressure of Champagne bubbles. Dom Perignon, that world-renowned monk
and food technologist, did not invent sparkling wine, but perfected the blending
of the grapes for a light and bubbly brew. Louis VI passed legislation mandating
the use of corks for Champagne bottles. Corks guaranteed the trapping of maximum
amounts of bubbles and the prevention of contamination by wild yeast.
In 1825, Antoine Muller, an employee of Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin developed a
system to remove the deposits that formed in Champagne bottles after
fermentation. This very labor-intensive technique made Champagne more attractive
and more expensive. If you like your champagne, you can expect to pay more for
it. The smaller the bubbles, the more expensive the champagne.
What’s in a Name?
"There comes a time in every woman’s life when
the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne" Bette Davis
In America, any sparkling wine can call itself champagne, as long as it’s
been bottle fermented and labeled with the region where the grapes were grown.
This means that there’s champagne available for everyone’s taste and wallet.