DOM PERIGNON DID NOT INVENT CHAMPAGNE


champagne

At the risk of going against popular opinion, Dom Perignon did not invent champagne. He was justly famous for his superb skills as a blender–but his legendary wines did not have bubbles.

He is supposed to have been so delighted with the bubbles that he turned to his sandal-shod brothers and called “Come quickly! I am drinking the stars!” This is one of the great deceptions of wine history. It only made sense that Dom Perignon wanted to rid champagne of its bubbles, since there was no market for sparkling wines yet. In France, nobody wanted them.

Over the course of the next decade, Dom Perignon dedicated himself to experimenting with ways to stop the development of bubbles.

In fact, the idea that Dom Perignon invented champagne was always just imaginative marketing. It was a brilliant but misleading sales pitch. The popular legend has its origins in a late-nineteenth century advertising campaign.

In her book, When Chanpagne Became French, scholar Kolleen Guy shows how it wasn’t until the 1889 World Exhibition in Paris that the region’s champagne producers saw the marketing potential and started printing brochures about Dom Perignon. From that time on the celebrated monk became a legend.

For those who enjoy the romance of the Dom Perignon legend, there is even worse news. Wine historians now claim that champagne did not even originate in France. Champagne was first “invented” in Great Britain, where there was already a small commercial market for sparkling champagne by the 1660’s.

Monks like Dom Perignon knew that local wines could sparkle, even if they considered it a nuisance. If there was no market for bubbles, why try and sell them? The effect of unusually cold weather stalled the fermentation process in the winter and allowed for the natural unwelcome emergence of bubbles.

Even if Dom Perignon and his predecessors did not discover champagne, by the end of the seventeenth century the royal court at the Palace of Versailles certainly had. King Louis XIV of France now wanted nothing more than bubbles in his wine.

Suddenly winemakers on both sides of the English Channel were scrambling to find ways to make champagne sparkle.

Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.

7 thoughts on “DOM PERIGNON DID NOT INVENT CHAMPAGNE”

  1. Well. How about that? What’s amusing is that I didn’t even know there was a rumor that Dom Perignon invented champagne. I just assumed it was a brand, not any different from Chateau-Thierry, or Spañada. (Well, ok. It is really different from Spañada!)

    I suppose this means that all that business about “real” champagne coming only from the Champagne region of France is a little iffy, too. Ah, me. On the other hand, this means I can drink the sparkling wine from the Frascone vineyard in Anahuac without feeling as though I’m settling for second best. I’m so relieved!

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    1. We’ve even bought some from the Russian River area. Who knew? My own research tells me that they can only call it champagne if it comes from the Champagne region. Apparently there was a “little ice age” for about 40 years during which the wine didn’t ferment when it was supposed to. It formed bubbles which they didn’t want. But I guess it had nothing to do with how they tromped the grapes.

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  2. To think that right now there must be thousands ‘popping’ the champagne while most of us sit behind our computors so dilligently and upstanding and utterly sober. Are we too sober?

    Did the Sybarytes know a thing or two that we don’t.?

    From Wiki:
    Maybe you, yourself, are a Sybarite!—that is, a person devoted to luxury and pleasure, yea, even unto wanton excess! Thus, maybe you’re having too much of a good time right now to read the rest of this. If that is the case, then go in peace, or as they used to say in Sybaris: Why don’t you have another glass of wine before you go? It’s piped in directly from the vineyard. Or enjoy another bath and massage. Or go back to sleep; it’s not even noon yet! Or take my wife. Please.*

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