I love the sound of a cork popping, sparkling drinks being poured, glasses clinking and jovial toasts being made. This is the season for holiday cheer and warm wishes–and what better way to celebrate than with Champagne!
It turns out that Champagne, our first “bubbly” wine was initially deemed a mistake. It came about in the 17th century in the Champagne region in France, where the weather is cool enough that the fermentation process is sometimes stopped (because of the cool temperatures) and then restarted. This created a volatile situation, where the glass bottles were known to sometimes explode, setting off a series of liquid “bombs.”
The English were the first to think highly of this bubbly drink, and everyone began to come up with solutions to problems. Barrels didn’t work for aging because the effervescence would be lost. Bottles needed to be thicker, so they wouldn’t explode. Corks were the best way to safely top off the bottles.
Dom Pérignon (yes, Virginia, there was a Dom Pierre Pérignon) was a French Benedictine monk and cellarer of his abbey and is credited with helping to tame the wild beast called Champagne. A quotation is perhaps erroneously attributed to him, but is so lovely, I HAVE to quote it:
“Come quickly, I am drinking the stars!”
More on sparkling drinks later!