Drink + Dine

Popping Bottles: A Brief History of Champagne

December 31, 2014
Written by: Yasha Wallin

The countdown to 2015 has officially begun. And no proper New Year’s Eve party would be complete without a little bubbly. So as we get ready to pop bottles, we thought we’d take a few minutes to reflect on how champagne came to be.

It all started in the 17th century with the Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon based in Champagne a region of northern France. This great winemaker fought for many years to rid his bottle of the carbon dioxide bubbles that would appear in his bottles during fermentation—a result of the area’s climate. Finally succumbing to his conditions, Pérignon set out to improve and perfect his accidental asset, hoping to create the “best wine in the world.” He did, eventually capturing the admiration of English and French aristocrats. Over the centuries, with many refinements leading to the flavor we taste today, the rest of the globe was also hooked.

Today, champagne is the symbol of celebration and sophistication, and one that we’ll take very seriously tonight. But before we do, a few more fun facts about champagne:

  • Sparkling wine is made all over the world but champagne only comes from Champagne, France.
  • There are 129 square miles of productive vineyards in Champagne, roughly the size of Portland, Oregon.
  • Vineyard land in Champagne is some of the most expensive real estate in the world at $650,000 per acre in an unclassified village.
  • Only three grape varieties are used to make champagne, which can be included in any proportion and combination but offer different styles.
  • Champagne takes time to be made, from the fermentation process which creates the bubbles in the bottle to the years that it rests in the long miles of cool cellars underground in Champagne.
  • Claude Moët founded, in 1743, what was to become the largest champagne house today, the House of Moët.
  • The esteemed line Veuve Clicquot was founded in 1772. It’s history can be traced back to Madame Clicquot, a young widow who courageously took up the helm of the family business, eventually conquering the world with the brands’ excellence and innovation.
  • There are about 90 pounds of pressure per square inch in a champagne bottle, about the same pressure as found in a double decker bus tire.
  • A champagne cork’s velocity can be between 25 and 60 miles per hour if popped out of the bottle.
  • Actress Marilyn Monroe allegedly took a bath in 350 bottles of champagne.
  • The longest recorded flight of a champagne cork is over 177 feet (54 meters).
  • There are approximately 49 million bubbles in a standard sized bottle of champagne.