The History of Champagne

It is the drink that is saved for celebrations and extravagant events, used to impress others and create an air of wealth. So, what exactly is champagne and where did this luxurious drink come from?

The Birthplace of Champagne

Of course, most people know that the Champagne drink comes from the Champagne region in
France. The fizzy wine was created by accident in the 17th century,
intended to be a competitor for the Burgundy wines that were popular at the
time. However, the grape farmers could not get the same level of fermentation
as Burgundy, due to the cooler climate. In the winter, the liquids just stopped
fermenting and then restarted again as the weather warmed up. This caused a
fizzier, gassier wine which led to many bottles exploding. The few bottles that
survived contained what we now recognize as Champagne.

The King of France was thought to be a huge fan of the sparkling wine and so it quickly
became a drink that was reserved for the rich, famous and regal.

Who is Dom Perignon?

A French monk who recognized the importance of the second fermentation period, Dom Perignon is generally recognized as being the founder of Champagne. At first, he tried to eliminate the bubbles caused by the second fermentation period in order to reduce the number of bottle explosions. At the same time, flat versions of the drink were being sold in England. Although the bottles with effervescence were thought to be faulty, the English loved them and would rejoice in the rare bubbles. In the end, Dom Perignon listened to the feedback and discovered how to create the sparkling drink that we know today.

Dom Perignon was also credited for being the first winemaker to use blue grapes in his
recipes. Many of the techniques he invented are still used in modern manufacture.
By the 18th century, the number of champagne houses in the region
has grown, with well known names such as Moet and Chandon, Tattinger and Louis
Roederer making liquids to rival the original.

Champagne Cocktails

Where there is an alcoholic beverage, there are cocktails to be made! The Kir Royale is one of the most famous, made with a small amount of crème de cassis added to a glass of champagne, it helps to create a slightly sweeter drink.

The Moet Margarita is a slightly more complicated cocktail with a real kick! Grand Marnier, Tequila, lime juice and sugar syrup are mixed with champagne for an interesting variation on the classic cocktail.

If neither of those cocktails tickle your fancy, why not try a French 75? Lemon juice, gin and sugar syrup add a delightful twist to your sparkling wine.

More to explore

Bartender's top tip

The key to a great cocktail is balance. Ensure that the sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and alcohol are in harmony. Use fresh ingredients whenever possible, and don't be shy about adjusting the proportions to suit your taste. For instance, if you find a drink too sour, add a bit more sweetener, or if it's too sweet, balance it with a bit of citrus or bitters.

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