Many people have enjoyed Champagne from Napoleon to Marilyn Monroe, who is said to have bathed in it, taking up some 350 bottles! but do we really know much about the myths and majesty that surround this King of wines?
The Champagne we all know and love comes exclusively from the Champagne region in North East France, and is without doubt, the most famous of all sparkling wines.
Vines were first planted here as far back as the 5th century AD and technically, it is the only sparkling wine that may be referred to as "Champagne."
Carbonated wines from all other regions in the world (including other regions in France) are referred to as "sparkling wines", such as Cava and Prosecco
Let us dispel a myth and state that it was not, contrary to popular belief, the great Benedictine monk Dom Perignon who invented Champagne! It was in fact an English scientist and physician called Christopher Merret, who, in 1662, six years before Dom Perignon even entered the Abbey of Hautvillers, presented a paper to The Royal Society documenting his studies involving the addition of sugar to a finished wine to create a second fermentation, now known as méthode champenoise.
All is not lost with Dom Perignon though, as he was responsible for creating the wire collar (muselet) used on every bottle of Champagne nowadays, to hold the cork in place.
Kings and nobility first gave Champagne its World Renown when ‘the unique sparkling wine’ message was spread throughout Europe. This association with Royalty, pleasure and luxury was soon adopted by the major champagne houses and their advertising reflected this; painting a picture to the newly established middle class of refinement and nobility in this wonderful, desirable drink and giving them something to aspire to and spend there new found wealth on!
- The Champagne region in NE France covers 81,600 acres
- A cork leaving the bottle can travel as fast as 100mph
- There are approximately 47,000,000 bubbles in a standard bottle
- The pressure in a bottle is about 90 psi
- Only 6 grape varietals are allowed by law, with the following first 3 being the most commonly used;
- Pinot Noir
- Pinot Meunier
- Pinot Blanc
- Petit Meslier
- Always open the bottle by twisting the bottle, not the cork, unless of course, if you require the cork to project out at velocity and the champagne too!
Champagne Bottle Sizes:
Half Bottle 0.375 litres (375ml) 0.5 standard wine bottle
Standard 0.75 litres (750ml) 1 standard wine bottle
Magnum 1.5 litres (1500ml) 2 standard wine bottles
Jeroboam 3 litres (3000ml) 4 standard wine bottles
Rehoboam 4.5 litres (4500ml) 6 standard wine bottles
Methuselah 6 litres (6000ml) 8 standard wine bottles
Salmanazar 9 litres (9000ml) 12 standard wine bottles
Balthazar 12 litres (12000ml) 16 standard wine bottles
Nebuchadnezzar 15 litres (15000ml) 20 standard wine bottles
"I drink it when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes, I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it if I am; otherwise I never touch it - unless I'm thirsty." - Madame Bollinger, one of the "grande dames" of French champagne (1884-1977)