The most renowned French drinks champagne is associated with celebration and popping champagne glasses at Christmas dinner or New Year’s Eve is among the most important Christmas customs in France.
The word “champagne” is the second most-used French word in the world as it is the emblem of parties and celebrations of the highest quality. Prior to that, it was reserved for an wealthy class, champagne is now poured out in all sorts of occasions such as celebrating success, to having a party at Saint Tropez.
So , before you pour yet another bottle of bubbly, we’ll tell you all you need to know about champagne the history of it and fun champagne facts you weren’t aware of yet.
Its story of the history behind champagne wine is lengthy and fascinating. The existence of vineyards in the Champagne region is a fact that dates all the way back to Roman times, perhaps even earlier.
The year was the year 496 AD, Clovis, the King of the Franks was baptized at Reims the home for champagne wines. From that point onwards, French kings were traditionally to be crowned at Reims as well as champagne (the drink) was consumed as part of coronation ceremonies. This is the tradition that marks the beginning the champagne as a celebration drink that was mainly enjoyed by the elite.
While their champagne has nothing in common with the ones we purchase to celebrate New year’s Eve. their champagne would have be cloudy and still the red wine that is known as ‘grey wines..’
As in other wine regions of France It was monks who have played a significant role in the development of the land and also the development (and the perfection) of Champagne wine within the Champagne region. We are all familiar with Dom Perignon (1638-1715), monk who lived in the Abbey of Hautvillers near Epernay and to whom we owe the famed champenoise technique that transforms vin tranquille (wine that isn’t bubbly) to sparkling.
Other names associated with champagne worth mentioning include Frere Oudart (1654-1742) and who helped to perfect this method and increase wines’ quality along with Dom Ruinart (1657-1709), an ancestor of the Champagne region who was a resident of Paris and promoted champagne wine among the most famous brands in the city, and at the Palace of Versailles.
Champagne’s association with luxury was further strengthened by the most lavish monarch was the King Louis XIV, tasted champagne for the first time at the Reims Cathedral. It was the King Louis XIV who associated champagne with his other aversions such as fashion, prestige and luxury.
After the French Revolution of 1789, the guillotine fell and ended champagne’s association with Aristocrats and monarchs. It was actually this revolution that started the third and possibly one of the strongest mythification of champagne by linking champagne with the soul and the virtues of the new French Republic.
In the Empire the champagne’s enthralling destiny was fulfilled. Napoleon made use of it to create an entirely new, bourgeois, hard-working and committed society.
“I cannot be without champagne, even if I win, I’m worthy of it. If I losing, I’ll need it” – Napoleon Bonaparte
Jean-Remy Moet founded champagne Moet in the United States, developing a new clientelethat included the president George Washington. When the Russian army defeated Napoleon and re-entered Reims, the capital city. Reims The entrepreneur Madame “Veuve” Clicquot offered her wine cellars to winners in the hope that it would assist her to conquer her share of the Russian market.
As the dawn of the industrial revolution, champagne wines gained faster access to various markets. With the help of modern rail networks the champagne could be moved more extensively, in larger quantities, and in more places than it had ever been before. The latest equipment enabled an efficient production process and also made champagne more appealing both from a flavor as well as an aesthetic perspective. Champagne quickly became an emblem of France in the eyes of the world.
The champagne wine enjoyed an international boom in around the turn of the century due to Germans. The time was when French prosperity attracted Germans who settled throughout the region. Through the years, certain were tied to champagne estates through marriage, while some were linked to certain champagne houses. This is the reason we have several German names on Champagne labels like Bollinger, Krug, or Deutz.
Everything concerning the Champagne Wine
Champagne can be described as a form of wine. The most popular grape varieties within the Champagne region are the chardonnay grape for the whites, and pinot-noir or pinot meunier for reds.
A champagne bottle contains approximately 49 million bubbly! The distinctive bubbles that are found in all champagnes result from another fermentation process due to the fermentation of yeast and sugar. Both ingredients combine to create carbon dioxide, and create millions of bubbles within a tiny space.
The only distinction between champagne and sparkling wine is the location it comes from. Champagne wine that is authentic can only be sourced directly from in the Champagne wine region in France. Any other bubbly that comes from the rest of the globe needs to be able to accept the label of “sparkling wine.’
The Champagne vineyard spans the five French départements: Aisne, Aube, Marne, Haute Marne, and Seine-et-Marne (the most recent part of the current Ile-de-France) which is covered with the marl and limestone soil. Climate is oceanic and has continental influences.
It is believed that the Champagne region is among the most northern vineyards in France. This is why it has always been a victim of extreme weather conditions, including waves of hail, frost and epidemics of all sorts. These risks have forced winemakers to use certain techniques which are not considered acceptable elsewhere in French wine regions. For instance, if there’s a wine from France that is ‘anything goes it’s Champagne wine.
Mix several wines from various vintages Mix the white and red wines to make rose wine. Add sugar to the cuvee to enhance the flavor, and look for the commonality of a flavor or design that pleases the largest quantity of people. It is also a part to the past of champagne. However, the world is in love with champagne, and it’s a hit!
Champagne’s designations include champagne (blanc or rose) 43 champagne Premier Crus, and 17 champagne Grands Crus which are Ambonnay, Avize, Ay, Beaumont-sur-Vesle, Bouzy, Chouilly, Cramant, Louvois, Mailly-en-Champagne Le Mesnil-sur Oger, Oger, Oiry, Puisieulx, Sillery, Tours-sur-Marne, Verzenay,Verzy.
Champagne wines are also classified according to sugar content Extra brut (0-6 grams of sugar per liter) brut nature the brut category, which includes extra dry sec demi-sec doux (more than 50g/l).
For a guide to Champagne head on over to The History of Wine.
The Best Champagne Brands
Tips: If you’re planning to take some bottles home from your journey to France (who would not want to? ) Be sure to take care to pack your wine in a way that it can be safely returned at home!
Here’s a list of the top champagne brands (most famous champagne brands) in terms of the volume of sales:
Moet & Chandon (LVMH) : 32 M bottles
Veuve Clicquot (LVMH) : 16 M bottles
Nicolas Feuillatte* : 9 M bottles
Mumm (Pernod-Ricard) : 7,8 M bottles
Laurent Perrier : 7,4 M bottles
Piper-Heidsieck (EPI) 5 M bottles
Pommery (Vranken-Pommery Monopole) 5 M bottles
Lanson (Lanson-BCC) Lanson (Lanson-BCC): 4,5 M bottles
Mercier (LVMH) : 4,3 M bottles
Taittinger: 4,2 M bottles
Marketing and sales aside, which is the top champagne?
Any wine lover or specialist magazine will have an alternative list of the top champagnes. Here’s an example of the top champagnes from Le Guide Hachette des Vins (a French wine buying guide):
CHARLES HEIDSIECK Blanc de blancs Blanc des millenaires 2006 Champagne
Champagne, CHARLES LEPRINCE 2006.
MOET ET CHANDON Moet and Chandon Brut Imperial Champagne
BONNAIRE Blanc de blancs Ver sacrum Champagne
SOUTIRAN Collection Privee Gd Cru Champagne
ALFRED GRATIEN , 2004 Champagne
DELAMOTTE Blanc de blancs 2008 Champagne
GOSSET Grande Reserve Champagne
TAITTINGER Blanc de blancs Comtes de Champagne 2006 Champagne
VEUVE CLICQUOT La Grande Dame 2008 Champagne
KRUG Grande cuvee 168e edition Champagne
The POL ROGER Sir Winston Churchill 2000 Champagne * Champagne
Fun Information about Champagne
Here’s a list of the most fascinating and interesting champagne facts you probably didn’t know about.
The Champagne wine region produces around 300 million champagne bottles each year.
More than 250 km (155 miles) of champagne cellars are located under Reims the capital city in the Champagne region. It is home to about 200 million champagne bottles.
In Epernay in France, in Epernay, the Avenue de Champagne is one of the most expensive roads worldwide because it is home to millions champagne bottles kept in the cellars beneath it.
The stunning chalk cellars that champagne bottles of Duperrey are stored in are recognised by UNESCO as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
France is the world’s largest market for champagne (of obviously!). In fact, the French drink 162.5 million bottles of champagne each year, which is roughly 52 percent of all world’s Champagne production. France follows by Belgium, Switzerland, and the UK.
33 percent of sales of champagne occur between November and the month of December.
A bottle of champagne 7500ml is packed with 49 million air bubbles. A standard-sized glass produces 30 bubbles each second.
The pressure inside champagne bottles is approximately three times that of automobile tires.
After being the champagne cork is opened, it could reach speeds of 40 kilometers per hour.
In the absence of control over your corks, you could risk getting injured. This is among the most frequent household accidents in France!
The champagne that you drink first contains the highest amount of bubbles, which means that the first glass will make you feel drunk quickly. The next glass you pour from the bottles will taste more powerful than the glass which follows.
For a long time champagne was viewed as risky due to its tendency to explode, which is why its name, ‘Devil’s wine’. The 19th century saw the first time champagne makers wore metal masts to guard their faces while handling bottles. In the end stronger glass bottles as well as clasp closures made of metal ensured that the champagne was more durable.
If you’re drinking champagne that’s good and you can detect the “collerette. This is the bubble trains that run across on the edges of your glass.
Your champagne will remain more bubbly when served in a flute glass, as opposed to the coupe glass.
Prior to modern flutes the ‘coupe’ was the most popular glass for champagne. This glass is believed to have come out of Marie-Antoinette’s breast left.
One of the most bizarre uses for champagne? In the 19th century, the elite used champagne to polish their shoes!
Due to its position in northeast France It is no surprise that the Champagne region was situated in the path of the advancing Germans in the World Wars. Instead of fleeing, a lot of inhabitants sought refuge under the towns within the tunnel cellars that were dug by the Romans and brought rare champagne bottles along with them.
Winston Churchill was one of the largest Champagne drinkers in history. Between 1908 between 1908 and 1965, he consumed around 42,000 bottles. Pol Roger even made him one-pint bottles that was offered to him every morning at precisely 11 am.
“Remember gentlemen, it’sn’t only France we’re fighting for It’s Champagne!” Winston Churchill
Marilyn Monroe took a bath in champagne. It took 350 bottles of champagne to complete the bath.