04 August 2011

The Day They Invented Champagne


The story goes that today in 1693 a blind monk named Dom Pierre Perignon created champagne.

Unfortunately, this legend isn’t exactly correct. While Perignon and his fellow monks did make wine at the Abbey of Hautvillers, they were actually focused on creating still wines; sparkling wine was a mostly unwanted occurrence. In those days, without adequate temperature control, a second fermentation would often happen in the bottles, creating bubbles and sometimes explosions.

The first person to intentionally make champagne was probably, gasp, an Englishman— scientist Christopher Merret. He wrote a paper in 1662 outlining a process for forcing a second fermentation now known as the méthode champenoise.

Perignon did come up with some ideas that would improve champagne including creating thicker bottles and securing corks with hemp string, a predecessor to the modern-day wire cages.

And by the way, he also wasn’t blind. 

Regardless of what's fact or myth, let’s all take a moment today to give thanks to Dom Pierre Perignon for having one of the finest champagnes named after him and besides, is there ever a reason not to celebrate the bubbly? Alors merci monsieur.

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