Remember when Champagne was the Uber of descriptions?
There was a Champagne of beers, a Champagne of teas and there is even a Champagne of Apples (Honey Crisp if you were wondering).
But how did it come to be that Champagne symbolized the best of the best?
The Hollywood elite have embraced it for decades and it is seen in movies and TV as a symbol of success and indulgence.
Marilyn once bathed in Champagne.
Churchill said, “it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!”
And my friend Jimmy once proclaimed, “I get buzzed faster from the carbonation!”
Excluding Jimmy, Champagne has always been the drink of choice for the powerful, elite and beautiful people.
It holds a mystique like no other beverage has or will.
So what is it about that sparkling elixir that brings out the bling?
Is it the expense or the decadence or the bubbles?
According to Kolleen M. Guy, author of “When Champagne Became French” the bubbly, wine has historically been associated with the aristocracy of Europe. They would mark celebrations with the drinking of Champagne and it was viewed as a status symbol.
It then became a part of the secular rituals that replaced religious ones after the French Revolution.
Guy told Life’s Little Mysteries. “You could ‘christen a ship’ without a priest, for example, by using the ‘holy water’ of
champagne.” It was opened at weddings, baptisms and other religious events, she said.
“I would say that champagne is important symbolically.”
“Royalty loved the novelty of sparkling wine. It was said to have positive effects on women’s beauty and man’s wit,” Guy said.
Champagne commemorates important events. “to mark both the joy and sanctity of the occasion.”
She went on to explain, “Champagne does this symbolically, but also visually, since it overflows in abundance and joy.”
The act of opening a champagne bottle is enough to mark a celebration.
In 1866 singer and entertainer, George Leybourne, began making celebrity endorsements for Champagne and wrote a hit song called “Champagne Charlie”.
Leybourne’s sophisticated image established Champagne as an important status symbol and was a marketing triumph.
Champagne maker Moët commissioned him to write songs extolling the virtues of Champagne as a reflection of taste and affluence.
The main reason for Champagne’s existence is the colder climate and a low level of sunlight in Champagne, France.
It has barely 1650 annual hours compared to that of 2,069 for Bordeaux and Burgundy.
The lack of warmth makes for a limited growing rate but gives the grapes freshness and crispness.
In-bottle refermentation gave Champagne its sparkle.
Cold temperatures made fermentation shut down in the winter months but in the spring when it warmed up the fermentation would begin again.
The CO2 returned to the wine and built up to a point where it would literally blow the corks out from the bottles.
Cellar workers had to wear face masks for protection from flying glass.
If one bottle blew then nearby bottles would start to explode as well in a chain reaction.
They called the whizz-bang brew vin du diable or devil’s wine.
Today’s method of making wine that sparkles is more controlled but the chemistry is the same.
Champagne is a geographical place not a winemaking style but only wine that comes from the region in France is technically called Champagne.
Top 10 best selling Champagne according to Drinks International:
- Moët & Chandon
- Veuve Clicquot
- Dom Pérignon
- Louis Roederer
What we have in California is called Sparkling Wine but it’s just as magnificent.
Mumm Napa traces its roots back to a prestigious French Champagne house (G.H. Mumm) founded in 1827.
The company was the global leader for Champagne and sold over three million bottles of Mumm a year by the turn of the century, all bearing the motto ‘Nothing but quality’.
Mumm has a long history of producing the world’s most consistent Non-Vintage Champagnes. It is the leading champagne brand in France and the third best-selling champagne in the world with over eight million bottles sold annually.
Non-Vintage wine is actually “multivintage” because it contains many years’ of wines blended together.
The base wine is not only made from grapes raised in a particularly fine single season but also from higher-quality vineyards from other years.
Think of it as buying higher quality grapes off the rack from other vineyards and years and blending it to improve the quality.
Many vintners use what is called reserved stock from wine that is sometimes over 10 years old.
Vintage wine is made from the grapes of only one year’s harvest and are priced higher as many winemakers save their best grapes for it.
It may be a blend but only from that year.
Is there a difference in taste? Not at all.
The non-vintage wines are just more consistent year-to-year.
Sparkling Wine from California
The Mumm Napa Cuvee M is a delicious brut (dry) style wine that has rich strawberry, raspberry and lime flavors.
I got this bottle for $23 at Von’s but I have seen it for as low as $17 online.
It is mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir but also 6% Pinot Gris and 3% Pinot Meunier.
It has a nice toasted vanilla complexity and a smooth honey finish.
For centuries the kings of France were crowned in Reims near Champagne at a great cathedral.
After a coronation, the royal court would linger in the region and drink local wines.
The nobility started getting it shipped to Paris and it quickly spread to other courts that were too far north to grow wine grapes like England and Holland.
The famous monk Dom Perignon didn’t “invent” champagne, but he improved the quality of it dramatically.
He helped maintain its sparkle by putting it in glass bottles instead of barrels and also figured out how to secure the corks with string.
As the legend goes, when brother Dom Perignon tasted the sparkling wine in 1668 he proclaimed, “Come quickly! I am tasting stars!”
And thus inspired mankind’s fascination with Champagne and stars.
Hollywood inspired Champagne cocktails
Mix together 1 oz. apple brandy with a dash of grenadine in a Champagne flute. Top with your favorite chilled bubbly, and serve.
Muddle four strawberries in the bottom of a shaker, and then fill with ice cubes. Add 1 oz. aged rum, 1/4 oz. simple syrup, and 1 oz. strawberry liqueur.
Shake then strain into a Champagne flute, topping with your favorite bubbly.
Pour 1 oz. Grand Marnier and 1-1/2 oz. chilled cranberry juice into a martini glass. Top with well-chilled Champagne (or sparkling wine) and garnish with an orange twist and sprig of mint.
Here’s Looking at You, Kid
Place 2 teaspoons sugar in the bottom of a Champagne flute, and mix with 2 oz. blood orange juice and 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice. Top with Champagne or sparkling wine, and garnish with a lime wedge.
“Three be the things I shall never attain: Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.” Dorothy Parker
To learn more about storing and serving your favorite Champagne or Sparkling Wine Go to NewAir.com