How Was Champagne Discovered

Last updated on February 23rd, 2023 at 10:10 am

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In France, champagne came into the picture through an accident. At the time, winemakers were trying to out-compete Burgundy wines.

Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful due to the cold climate. The freezing climate put a pause on the fermentation process. After winter, came spring and the fermentation process began.

Bubbles of carbon dioxide began to form inside the bottles and the extra pressure caused many bottles to explode. However, the bottles that did not explode had sparkling wine or champagne in them.

Champagne was invented by accident

Yes, champagne came into existence through an accident. In the early 18th century, winemakers in France began the fermentation process in the middle of winter.

This made the process stop midway and again start during spring. This second fermentation caused bubbles to form in the bottles and led to the discovery of champagne in the Champagne region of France.

After its accidental discovery, it became a staple at the official dinners at the Royal Palace. In the years after 1715, it got immense popularity among the French elite class.

The main person who was responsible for discovering champagne was – Mr. Dom Pérignon. The process of second fermentation came to his mind in 1668.

Besides champagne, he is also the first winemaker to white wine using blue grapes. He is the creator of many techniques for making sparkling wine.

Who really invented Champagne?

Statue of a man holding Champagne

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Dom Pérignon was a French monk who is the man behind the invention of champagne in 1697. Thirty years before 1697, an accident took place involving exploding bottles.

He created champagne by using the process of méthode champenoise – a creation of his wine-making. Interestingly, even before him, there was an English scholar named Christopher Merrett, who gave a scientific explanation of how to create bubbly wine by submitting a paper to the Royal Society in 1662.

So, Merrett was able to decipher the science of champagne six years before Dom Pérignon. The English winemakers were also more successful in making sparkling wines because they used study bottles that were able to withstand the extra pressure of carbon dioxide.

History of champagne

History of champagne

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The history of champagne began with Romans planting vineyards in the northeast region of France in the 5th century. Winemakers were failing to create red wine in the northeast region as the climate was freezing.

This laid way for the discovery of the second fermentation process while the winemakers were trying to make a better drink than burgundy wine. Most bottles would explode during the second fermentation as the pressure inside the bottles would be too high because of the compressed carbon dioxide.

Some bottles did survive and in them, sparkling wine was found. This phenomenon was seen as a mistake by the local winemakers, and they thought it was a fault.

In the late 17th century, the French monk Dom Pérignon was still trying to rid the bottles of bubbles. While in Britain, this variety was gaining traction in the market.

With time, sparkling wine made more & more people fall for its magic, especially among the elite class. After 1715, sparkling wine became a favorite of the French elite.

The modern champagne industry took shape in the 19th century with a deeper understanding of the process and the development of better wine-making techniques. The méthode champenoise made large-scale wine-making economically feasible.

Nowadays, champagne has seen a re-surge in popularity and is associated with both luxury and celebration. Sales have seen over 200% growth since 1950 and over 200 million bottles are sent to the global market each year from this French region.

How did Dom Pérignon discover Champagne?

In 1693, Dom Pérignon discovered how to make sparkling wine. He saw that in the winter, the fermentation process stopped.

However, as the temperature got back up in the summer – a secondary fermentation process began inside the bottles. Resulting in CO2 build-up in the form of bubbles inside the wine bottles.

Who invented champagne monk?

It was Dom Pérignon, a French monk who made took major strides in the development of champagne or sparkling wine in the late 17th century. At the time, there was only red wine available for the French nobility.

How did Champagne get its name?

Even though sparkling wines are produced all over the world, most countries have respective names for their variety and restrict the use of the word – Champagne. Champagne is a region in the northeast of France, after which the sparkling wine gets its name.

As this is the place the wine came into being – sparkling wine bottles that come out of this region hold the legal right to call the product – ‘Champagne’. This is in alignment with European law.

The first champagne ever created

The first champagne bottle was accidentally made in the 17th century. Dom Pérignon was responsible for the discovery of the second fermentation process – which gives champagnes their sparkling nature.

When was the champagne bottle invented?

The thick champagne bottle was invented in the early 17th century. However, the first modern champagne bottle came into the picture around 1856 in Germany – by the hands of Georg Christian Von Kessler.

Champagne vs prosecco

Champagne vs prosecco

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Champagne comes from a region in the northeast of France, near Paris – known as ‘Champagne’. So, the champagne drink is named after a geographical place. On the other hand, Prosecco is a sparkling wine that originates from the Veneto region in Italy.

So, technically both sparkling wine varieties are “wines of place” and cannot be legally produced anywhere else on the planet. However, the processing method is also different for these two drinks.

To make champagne, the wine goes through a secondary fermentation process with the addition of yeast that helps form the CO2 bubbles inside it. Meanwhile, prosecco involves the Charmat method which allows for a single fermentation process in a tank and high-pressure bottling.

The Charmat method is more efficient – as the application involves multiple wine bottles simultaneously (not one bottle at a time). Naturally, prosecco is more affordable than champagne.

However, both the champagne and prosecco involve mixing formula yeast with sugar to produce alcohol and CO2. Only the processing method is different.

Can Muslims drink Champagne?

The Quran does not allow the consumption or use of any alcoholic drink, be it champagne, wine, or any other drink containing alcohol. In Islam, alcohol is thought to cause more harm than good as it is an intoxicant.

So, the answer is – ‘No’. However, they can indulge in non-alcoholic wines which have the ‘Halal’ label or are Halal-certified.

Who invented sparkling wine?

It is thought by most historians that sparkling wine was more of an accident than an invention. However, most historians credit the French monk – Dom Pérignon for his pioneering efforts in the wine-making industry at the time.

Interestingly, there is a strong case to be made for English winemakers who may have been enjoying sparkling wine thirty years before the French counterpart made any progress.

Champagne vs sparkling wine

In a nutshell, wine is an alcoholic drink made of grapes or other fruits, that can originate from anywhere in the world. However, champagne is a sparkling wine that involves the best-handpicked varieties of red and white grapes in the ‘Champagne’ region of France.

To capitalize on the champagne boom in the market, many countries call their sparkling wines something unique to market it better and develop the brand. Here are some examples:

  • Cava – It is the sparkling wine of Spain and uses the same processing technique as champagne. However, it involves different varieties of grapes (Macabeu grapes) and strikes a balance between freshness and creaminess in its flavor.
  • Prosecco – This sparkling wine originates from the Veneto region of Italy. The bubbles inside this wine are bigger than champagne bubbles, and it uses a different processing technique, known as – Charmat.
  • Sekt – This sparkling wine comes from Austria and Germany. Processing this drink also involves the Charmat method or tank method. However, the grape selection is different.
  • American sparkling wine – This sparkling wine has its origin in California. It uses the same processing method as making champagne.

It is important to note that all these wines have different levels of sweetness along with different tastes and aromatic characteristics. Their price is another point of differentiation.

Champagne alcohol

On average, champagnes contain 12% pure alcohol and so do other sparkling wines such as prosecco. Making champagnes involves only three grape varieties – Pinot, Meunier (both black), and Chardonnay (white).

It will take no more than two standard servings of champagne to get an adult drunk. The bubbles inside champagne have been shown to intoxicate us faster than any other flat beverage having the same pure alcohol content.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How old is the oldest Champagne?

The oldest champagne bottle in existence is believed to be the one found inside a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea. Found in 2010 by a team of divers – the bottles mostly likely are from the 1780s and were a part of cargo heading toward Russia.

Does champagne ever expire?

A vintage bottle of champagne can last for up to 15 years in proper storage conditions. However, if it is a non-vintage, it will last for not more than 3 to 4 years on average.

After popping off the cork, the champagne does not last for more than 3 to 5 days.

Is 10 years old champagne drinkable?

If the champagne bottle was inside a proper storage facility, then it will be completely safe to consume it.

What are the 3 grapes in Champagne?

The three grape varieties present in champagne are – Pinot, Meunier, and Chardonnay.

Key Takeaways

  • In France, champagne came into the picture accidentally.
  • Dom Pérignon was responsible for the discovery of the second fermentation process.
  • Muslims cannot drink champagnes or any other alcoholic drink as it forbidden in their religion.
  • Champagnes contain 11 to 14% pure alcohol in them.
  • Champagne comes from a region in the northeast of France, near Paris – called ‘Champagne’.

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