Champagne is a divine sparkling wine, the most appreciated drink from the grapes. Unlike the wines, its history is a mystery and it is still unclear who invented the technique for making this festive wine.
According to studies, many people even think that the champagne was the result of a mistake. According to some sources, French champagne got its name in the 17th century from the Benedictine monk Pierre Pérignon, who is said to have invented it.
Pérignon, a passionate oenologist who dedicated himself to the vineyards of Hautvillers Abbey in the French region of Champagne, where he became treasurer in 1668. His tasks also included the care of the vineyards, a work he carried out with great passion. At his death, Dom Pierre left behind 24 hectares of well-tended vineyards, which produced quality wines and thus restored the abbey’s finances.
The Benedictine discovered the so-called foam formation during bottle fermentation, because he left some wine bottles in the cellar for refining, which then burst. Dom Pérignon had the idea of pouring beeswax into the neck of the bottle to seal it airtight. But after a few weeks there was an overpressure in the bottles and they burst open again. He discovered the “Champenoise” method, a double fermentation of the must, the first fermentation takes place in the barrels and the second fermentation takes place directly in the wine bottle.
Another version, however, was that Dom Pèrignon had discovered carbon dioxide in champagne only by chance. By flavouring the wine with flowers and sugar, he notes that these produce a kind of foam when the bottle is opened.
The French monk made a significant contribution to improving the quality of wine at that time, preferring the Pinot Noir, which was most suitable for the production of champagne. Only the mature grapes were used to improve the structure of the wine. It is also suspected that it replaced the closure of the bottles with corks, since cork was lighter, waterproof and more suitable for preserving the foam of the wines.
It was also his idea to put a wire mesh around the cork to withstand the pressure. The white Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir were combined to make the champagne.
Three grape varieties, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay are approved for the production of champagne, and very strict quality standards apply to cultivation today. Even the harvest is done by hand so that the grapes remain intact and the red grapes are pressed very quickly so that the champagne remains light. Before being dispatched, the yeast is removed from the bottle and it is shaken for about three weeks. So that the yeast then comes out of the bottles, the bottleneck comes into an ice bath and the yeast freezes.
The cork is opened and the ice cap shoots out of the bottle under pressure. After that, the bottles can be finally closed, but they have to be filled up before. This small dose then gives the champagne its characteristic note.