When there is an occasion to celebrate there is nothing quite like a bottle of Champagne to mark the event. But ‘bubbles’ are great at any time and they really don’t need to be reserved for weddings, anniversaries and winning Formula One races. In fact, cracking open a bottle of Champagne is a great idea at almost any time – it even goes very nice with orange juice at breakfast time. Unlike beer, which has developed a reputation as an everyman’s drink, Champagne has done quite the opposite. Perhaps this is because there is a sense of mystery and mystique about it. If that is the case, then unpacking some of the mystery around the drink might be a good idea. As such, here are five things that you probably never knew about Champagne.
It is not always Champagne
Wine with bubbles in it is not by definition Champagne. Wine with bubbles is known as sparkling wine. Champagne is a type of sparkling wine. What gives the wine the right to be referred to as Champagne is the fact that it was grown and produced in the Champagne region of France. This is where the name originates from and while the production methods have been copied around the world, the term Champagne is reserved for the actual production of the specific region. The same applies to fortified wines like Port and Sherry. The former is a product of Porto in Portugal and the latter from Jerez in Spain.
Where do the bubbles come from?
Is it just wine that has been carbonated? This is a question that is frequently asked, and the answer is that it can be made that way. There are four different methods of making sparkling wine and one of them is through carbonation of wine. This method, however, is not popular, and it tends to be used only with the lowest quality and cheapest sparkling wines. More traditionally the bubbles arrive as part of the fermentation process. The other three methods of producing bubbly are known as the Charmat method, the tank method, and the classic method. The last of these is the way that Champagne is produced.
The story of Dom Perignon
Dom Perignon is a world-famous Champagne made by Moët & Chandon. It is named after a monk who was born in 1638. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly this monk, Dom Perignon, was the cellar master at a Benedictine abbey in Hautvillers. He pioneered several techniques for making Champagne and blending wine. He is regarded as one of the earliest pioneers in the field of viticulture. He is also renowned as the man who introduced corks and as the man who developed thicker glass bottles for storage – after he reportedly got tired of Champagne bottles exploding under pressure.
Without a doubt, there is truth in the fact that Champagne can cost lots. It certainly costs more than your average beer. The highest price ever paid for a bottle of bubbly was the whopping US$43500 that was paid for a bottle of 1820 Juglar Cuvee. Fortunately, the average bottle costs a whole lot less than that!